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someIssamese proverbs. 




Majo.-i p. p.. T. GUEDON, I.A., 





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rpHANKS to the liberality of the Assam Administration 
it has been possible to publish a Second Edition of 
*' Some Assamese Proverbs." The first edition, although 
it met with a favourable reception at the time, contained 
many inaccuracies which a deeper study of the Assamese 
language on the part of the compiler and the kindness of 
various friendly critics, have helped to bring to light. Cer- 
tain faults in transliteration also which appeared in the first 
edition have been rectified, the method of transliteration 
laid down by the Royal Asiatic Society being followed aa 
far as practicable. A large number of the proverbs which 
appear in this collection -^tre said to be the utterances of 
Ddk, who according to some was a man of humble extrac- 
tion, being a member of the Kumar caste, who was born in 
the village of Lehi-Dangara situated near the now ruined 
village of Mandia in the Barpeta mauza. For this fact 
there is the authority of the " Dak Charitra," in which 
occurs the line c«^f^ ^5^^] ^f^^^t^. On the other hand, a 
writer in the " Assam Banti " claims that Dak was a Brahmin 
by caste who was born in a village near Kaliabar in the 
Nowgong district, and that Dak and his family migrated 
to Jorhat during the reign of Raja Rudra Singh. Thi3 
writer adds that the descendants of Dak are to be found to 
this day at Rangdai in Jorhat, where the family is known 
under the name of ^^'^ ^t"^^^ ^<r. If the sayings of Dak 
are examined by any one who is acquainted with the Barpeta 
patois y I think he will be of the same opinion as myself that 
Dak's language has a distinct Barpeta ring about it. It is, 
however, not of much moment Dak's birth place, but it is a 
matter for congratulation that so many of Dak's sayings 



which are brimful of worldly wisdom, as well as practical 
knowledge of agriculture, have been unearthed. Ddk's 
agricultural sayings and the prohibitions concerning not 
building and not even cutting bamboos on certain days of 
the month, are well known to the Assamese cultivators 
throughout the province, and it is believed that the former 
are much respected and the latter often strictly observed by 
Assamese Hindus. It will probably surprise the non- 
Assamese reader to hear that mustard cannot be sown on 
the four lunar days of the month ending in the sufi&x % or 
that pulse cannot be sown on the five lunar days ending 
with the suffix ^, and that cane or bamboos cannot be cut 
during the six days of the SJiaran. Then, again, there is 
the prohibition regarding ploughing on the day of the full 
moon, or during the Amhiibachi, when the earth is consi- 
dered to be in a state of impurity. The proverbs to which 
I have referred above, as also the greater number of the 
other agricultural sayings, are ascribed to Dak. 

It is to be hoped that the inaccuracies in the rendering 
of some of the proverbs that appeared in the first edition 
and in the translation have now been rectified, but it should 
be stated that in the work of revision I am specially 
indebted to Eai Madhav Chandra Bardalai Bahadur, Messrs. 
Parsu Ram Khaund, Hem Chandra Gossain, Eajani Kanta 
Bardalai, Jagat Chandra Gossain, and Upendra Nath Barua. 
The names, however, of Mr. Abdul Majid, who helped me 
BO much with the first edition, and of Guru Prasad Kakati, 
who assisted me in collecting in the district of Sibsagar, 
must on no account be omitted. 

In conclusion, it is to be hoped that the present attempt 
to render into English some of the sayings of the people of 
the Brahmaputra Valley may help to save the former from 
oblivion, and the agricultiu-al sayings, which it is believed 


are published now for the first time in English, may be of 
some practical value to agriculturalists. It is intended, 
hereafter, with the approval of the Hon'ble the Chief 
Commissioner, and if time and opportunity permit, to pub- 
lish some of the proverbs of the Surma Valley. 

Shillong, p. E. T. GUEDON. 

The 25th September 1903. 


Class I. 


i. Anger, affectation, boasting, conceit, etc. 

Ki no bhamakar tali, bhdl khan thai phatd khan p^li. 

What a repetition of anger, you have put down the good one 

and picked up thi torn ore. 

This is addressed to a person who is in a great rage, and who 
is so angry that he puts down the good cloth he has in his hand, 
and takes up a torn one instead. 

^"^ {hhamak) signifies the sudden rising of anger. It is also 
applied to a fire which suddenly blazes up. 

2. Boasting. 

Phop d^ng dh5,n n&ikija suda chdng. 

You boaster— you have no paddy and your chang is empty. 

The term c^t*r wT^r is applied to a man who boasts about 
nothing. ^ittf'P^I {ndikiyd) literally is not. ^^'f {chdng) is the 
platform inside the ^^1^ {bhardl) or granary. 

3. Forgetfulness. 

PShari dchhilo paril manat, 

Panch baraniya pat^ achhe Rawanar gharat. 

I had forgotten it, and then I rem?mbered, 

It was a five-coloured stone in the housa of Eawan. 



The word *t^ signifies a flat stone upon which spices, etc., are 
pounded. When Lakshman, the younger brother of E/am, was 
wounded in battle with R^vana, the mountain Gandhamadan was 
"brought by Hunuman. The physician in attendance selected 
certain requisite medicinal herbs therefrom, and, when asking for 
a flat stone and pestle for grinding the herbs in question, gave 
vent to the proverb. 

4. Affection. 

f%r^ve^ f^fsf^ ?jf^ r«f^cf ^t%w, m%^ ^r*i ^w^ 5?!^ I 

Bihar Rahdai Tipamar Bhadai^ Salagurir Aghani bdi, 
Tinior dingit dhari tiniye kandichhe, samandar bdl gachh nai. 

Eahdai from Raha, Bhadai from Tipam^ sister AgViani from Salaguri, 

Are all three weeping on each other*s njcks nrid embracing, 

although there is not the least relationship amongst them. 

Rahd is in the Nowgong district. Tipdm, or Namti, is close to 
Sibsdgar. Salaguri is also in Sibsagar. 

6. Boasting. 

Nagai Garaa(n)or batara kay. 
He tells the news of Gargaon without hxviog gone there. 

A man tells the news of the court without ever having been 
to it. Gargaon was formerly the capital of the Ahom kings, or 
rather was one of their capitals. 

6. Boasting. 

7\-\^^^ ^tf^?! ^^ ^^j »t5tr, 
c^^f^^l *tt^c^ "^c^ lai '^tc? ^'s*r I 

SAgarat achhil pancbajanya shankha, 

Neguri^ shdmuke kale mayo tare bangsha* 

In the ocean there was the conch shell with five openings, 

Bat the sbamuk with a tail said '* I am relatsd to it/' 


The shdmuk is a shell-fish, which is found in almost every 
marsh or *' 5i^." Its shell is in appearance very like a snail 
shell. It is useless as an article of food, except to the ^i\^ ^^ {shd' 
muk bhangd)i which is a species of heron that cracks the sheila 
with its strong beak. Lime is, however, made from the shells in 
considerable quantities, and is sold and bought by the poor to 
eat with " tamul " (betelnut). The ^\^ w^j *m was the mythi- 
cal conch which was blown by Sri Krishna during the battle of 

the Mahabharat. 

7. Boasting. 

Jahalai na mar© mahalai maroj 
Phatd dthuwd khan tingali kai taro. 

I do not care for the heat, but I die from the mosquitoes, 
Since I have hung my torn mosquito curtain too bigh. 

Probably the meaning of this proverb is ** penny wise and 
pound foolish.** Another reading 'i^tq ^ sfc^i, jn which case ^^ 
(Sanskrit T^) means fame. 

8. Blaming others for one's own fault. 

Nakaleo nowdro phata mukh, ' 
£aleo lage bhakatar dosb. 

There is an opening in the mouth, and I can't help speaking, 
If I do speak, the blame will fall on the '* hhakat'* 

Here the man is between the horns of a dilemma ; he can't 
help speaking, but if he does he will get a hhahat into trouble, 
^"^vs ifihakat) means a disciple of a gosain or priest. 


9. Conceit. 

Jujibalai 6hile mSl, 
Dui Mte chingile b&I. 

A wrestler came to fight, but he only broke a hair. 

^tif5«1is a vulgar expression signifying inability to do 

This proverb applies to the man who is over-conceited about 
his capabilities. The word it«t (mdl) more properly means a boxer 
or wrestler. 

10. Counting one* a chickens before they are hatched'^ Discontent and 


Gachhat kathdl othat tel. 
N6 khdotei sel bel. 

Bnbbing the lips with oil. 

While the jack fruit is still on the tree. 
^^m C^^ {othat tel) means on the lips oil. The jack fruit, if 
eaten without putting oil on the lips, causes sores. There is a 
Hindi proverb exactly similar to the Assamese. It is (gdchh par 
kathdl hdnth men tel). Clearly this is an instance of counting 
one*s chickens before they are hatched. 

11. Discontent. 

Lo bdkali ch^l, 
S&totd Bukhar etfio 
Nepdlo, dheki to o 
Nepdlo bhSl. 


I take off the covering, I did not obtain even one of the seven happi- 
nesses, and I did not find even the dheki nice. 

A complaint of a woman who is discontented with her lot. 
She did not find even the " dheki " any comfort. To work the 
" dheki " is one of the hardest household duties. 

12. Exaggeration. 

«ac^ '^ ^f^^ Jitc^^l f^i?^ «itf%c»i*1, 

Eke kdthi kdre sdtot^ singhok n)Srilo(n)| 
Lokak Dakalo(n) Mje, 
Chhamah khdp di nigani et^ m^rile t^te, 
Dhanjay dhol baje. 

With one arrow I killed seven lions, 

I was too shy to tell any one ; 

But hcj after lying in wait for six months, killed a mouse. 

At that I see the drum of victory beaten. 

The *I^^^ (dhanjay) was a large drum which was beaten by 
the Ahoms when they gained a victory. The " dhanjay " was 
of a particular shape and of large size. An illustration of it 
is given by Montgomery Martin in his book. 

18. Exaggeration, 

cm ^^ ^c^i srt? i 

Kath^ kalei Mgil pak. 

Bare jani gaichhil panf anibalai, 

Tera janir katile nak. 

If I say, a fault is found with my story, 
Twelve girls went to fetch water, 
The noses o£ thirteen were slit. 


^^T^^ ^\^ {Idgil pdk)i\item\\y a turn or twist has occurred. 
Here ^t^ means offence, f ti^i^«T ^sit^ {kdtile ndk) they cut the 
noses. It was a common punishment to slit the nose in the 
days of the Hajas. The proverb points to the growth of a story, 
or probably, in this case, scandal, by being repeated. 

14. Exaggeration. 

Jdp m^ri deichhilo Dhapalika parbat. 
Tilikit marichliilo bag. 
Kheda marl dharichhilo mata harind. 
Etiyd nepao mata ha(n)har lag. 

I used to be able to jump over the DhapaliH bill. 
I killed the paddy-bird in an instant. 
I cbased a stag and caught him. 
Now I can't even catch up a drake. 

Ft*tf^'1 *f^^ is hillock. Ft^'ipT^I also is used to express a screen 
Visually made of thatching-grass. This screen, which is some- 
times called *tt^1% (pdrali) , is used for watching crops and for 
guarding them from wild animals, ^'t is short for ^lf% (bagali), 
the common paddy-bird. f51^f^^, . literally, at a snap of the 
fingers, and so it comes to mean instantly. 

10, Exaggeration, 

Tilake t^l karile. 
He made a palm tree out of a sesamum seed, 

The Assamese version of *' to make a mountain out of a 
molehill." V^^ is the sesamum. ^ti is the fan-palm or palmyra 


16. Eccaggeration, 

D'iianar nariya t^n, 

Bhat kMichhe udhinar m^n. 

Dhan's iilness is very serious, 
But he eats a pile of rice as big as an ndhdn. 
'* Dhan " is a term of endearment sometimes applied by 
wives to their husband ; it may be translated " darling." 

^<t^ is a large clod of earth. Three such clods are used to 
support the cooking pot. 

17. Exaggeration. 

^I^ ^^f^ ^f^ fw.'i C^1^1, 

Nuchhui durauni twli dile boj^, 
Naparf nuskuni hal oj^. 

He lifted the load on to the head of the fish- wife without being* 

poJuted by hjr. 
Without study he became a magician. 

This proverb is meant ironically. According to Assamese 
ideas, it would be impossible for a man to place a load on the head 
of a Dumni without being polluted by her. The " Dom " 
caste in Assam appears to be considered of equally low status as 
in Bengal. ^^1 (ojd) means a teacher of arts, magician, exorcist. 
It is in its last sense, that sw1 is most frequently used, particularly 
amongst the semi-civilised and more ignorant people. Brian 
Hodgson gives an interesting account of *' ojds " on page 138 of 
his Collection of Essays. 

18. Exaggeration. 

5T^1>1 cv^^ ^'^\ 

Nakata kherar ha sha. 
Of uncut grass tbore a^e nine hundred .bundles 


This is a case of counting one's chickens before they are 
hatchedi as well as of exaggeration. 

19. Exaggeration. 

B i\ chhingote mohd maril, 
Mai bolo mohd ranat he paril. 

My uncle died in scratching himself (literally ia breaking a hair), 
But I thought he fell in an engagement. 

C^t^l is mother's younger sister's husband. 

20. " Exaggeration, 

18?^ »in^ i«r isrfvB 

Sajar lagat Bij sangati 
Madhuk karilo pdn, 
Bikramadityar murat uthi 
Gangat karilo sndn. 

By associating with the good I drank honey, 
And by mounting on the head of Bikramadifcya I bathed 

in the Ganges. 

TW is pure, good, excellent. *r^ is honey. Bikramddifcya was 
the name of a Hindu king. The meaning of the third line of the 
proverb is obscure. 

81. False exeusei. 

Har ndikiyd jibS, 

Kay kibd kib^. 
The tongue because it has no bon«. 
Says various things. 


A poor excuse made by a man when he says more than he 
ought. He does not admit the blame, but throws it on his 
tongue, which, he says, is easily pliable, because it is unsupported 
by bone. 

^.— The modern Greek proverb (translation). — " The tongue 
has no bones, yet it breaks bones,'* and also the Turkish proverb 
{translation) —** The tongue has no bone, yet it crushes." 

22. False pride and over-sensitireness. 

Kdr ^2rat kim kcne pitilKa, 
Jdr 6; at kara .'e y Uthydba. 

Befora whom shall I s^eak, who will believe ? 

To whoever 1 say it he will kick me. 

23. Qreedi' €9\ 

Khakul i,'al pit kitibalai, 
Ki'xhakudi m^tlte khdle. 

The srreody went to cut a p^ant un-'eaf, 
He who was not grjt:dy eat on the grouud. 
This is ironically meant. 

**• Greediness. 

Khdbalai darad dam bana^ai ffariy^, 
Pindhiba ai Mg-e tdk dchudii churiyd. 

He is a great hand at eating, but he is like a lazy bullock fts regards work 
And he requires an embroidered " dlinti " to wear. 


tff^l meang lazy, ''it^f^ (dcJiuwdli) means a cloth embroi- 
dered with '5't^ (dchu) or red thread. The colour is obtained 
from the root of a tree called "^rf^^f^ {dchukari). 

25. Greediness, 

Tini molla thdkile chai, 
Khodai to olal hi bhorok^i. 

"Whilst the three mollis were watching, 
Their god suddenly appeared. 

I am told that this means that the three mollds were watch- 
ing the feast being prepared, when their god appeared ; but this 
proverb might mean anything. The Assamese Muhammadan 
has a feast on every possible occasion, the feast being prepared 
in a house adjoining the house of prayer. C'^'fl is, of course, 
not an Assamese word, but the Arabic Khuda for God. 

26. Greediness. 

^sts^ ^^ ac^^1 ^tf^, 

Bhdtar bhatua mekhela bhdri, 
Bhdt bdri thaichho khodhi dhi. 

Greedy rice-eater and mekhela-bsarer, 
I have prepared and served up the rice, come and eat it. 

This is addressed by some one to a greedy dependent. ^^^1 
and C^i'^ ^lf^ are both terms of reproach. The first means one 
who is fond of ^t^ (rice), and the second means one who carries a 
C^^^*i1 (mekheld)y a garment worn by women and is therefore equi- 
yalent to calling a man a woman. 


27. Sitting a man when he is down. 

Dukhar upari dukh, 
Kukure kamore, 
Chliawale daliai, 
Kato nimile sukh. 

Misery upon misery, 
The dogs bite me. 
The ( boys ) pelt me, 
Nowhere have I found rest. 

This is the cry of a heggar who is thus treated. 

S8i Eypocrisy, impatiencet inattention, ignofanc^* 

^f^ ^^ ^r^ c^k ^tc^ ^tc^, 

Hdti chur kari nei bate bate> 
Bengena chorak dhare, 
Nakto katile laj nelage, 
Nakhto kdtile mare. 

The elephant is stolen on the roadside, 
He catches a man who has stolen brinjals^ 
If his noB3 is cut off, he is not ashamed^ 
But iE you pare his nails, he dies ( of grief ). 

A man steals an elephant from the roadside, but the thief of 
a hrinjal is caught. If his nose is slit he is not ashamed, but if 
you pare his nails he dies ( of grief ). 



89. Impatience^ 

Araittai ukhuw^r 
Khach klia. hani tin. 

Ukhuwa ii mord importurafe than arai. 
Ukhuwd is equivalent to the Bengali ^^1, usna, which is rice 
ohtained by boiling paddy before husking ; this rice is coars3r than 
that obtained by sun-drying paddy and then husking it. The 
meaning of the proverb is that inferior persons are more impor- 
tunate than t'aeir superiors. 

80. Selfishness. 

Alahye bichhare shakat Ion, 
Dhan kinai lijhhare dangar don. 

The guest looks out for salt in his vegetables ; 
The paddy-buyer searches for a large " don/* 

In the old days salt was a luxury, and was therefore much 
appreciated. The "don^* is a measure of capacity, and varies 
in size according to locality. It is supposed to contain five seers 

81. The impatient husband, 

Ki no pai hutdi t^i 
Lot! kharichd 
Bibar tat Hal. 

What an impatient husband I 
,, He causot even wait to be served with Mit and pickle. 


^"st^ ^\l is impatient ; ^^^^^ is derived from the Sanskrit Q^t*t^, 
fire ; the word ^t? is added for the sake of rhyme. This is the 
complaint of a troubled house wife, ^f^^i is a pickle made from 
the young shoots of the bamboo, and is eaten with boiled rice- 
It is much esteemed. 

32. Inattention. 

Ko (n) t i k 11, ja'arte sVa'd. 
If I tell him hi is de<if, tho s^ iidle is in the spinning wheel. 

** There are none so deaf as those who wo'nt hear." 

83. Inattention. 

Mai ko raj bhiganar katha, 
Si kai kal thokd baduliye khdle. 

I talk about a revolution j 

He interrupts me, saying, a bat has eaten the 

bunch of plantainf. 

^t^^^^ literally means the breaking up of a kingdom. 

84. Ignorance. 

Sir ndi tarju tul, 

Si ki jdne banijar nlob 

He who has not a pair of scaled, 

What does he know of the worth of trade ? 

cit^ is value, worth. 


85. An umhilful workman quarrels with Ms tools. 

Nachiba najane cho(a)tal 
Khan herein gariya. 
He who does not know how to dance, 
(Finds) the floor of the courtyard sloping. 
(.^v^^ ^f^^ is -asually applied only to land which is not level. 
It is interesting to compare Christian's Bihar proverb, which is 
almost identical {ndche na jdnin dnganioen terh ). The mean- 
ing is the same. 

86. Ignorance. 

Bejar nakat khare khale. 
The doctor has ringworm on hii nose. 
^ is the common word for ringworm. The meaning of the 
proverb is that doctors suffer from the same ills as their patients. 
c.f. " physician, heal thyself. " 

&(/. Improvidence. 

^^^^ ^St^^ *t^1 ^ C^^ C^^ I 
Agai dchhile jen ten, 
Bhakatak bhunjabar pard hal pen pen. 
Voti used to live before after a fashion, 

But since yon have taken to entertaining " bhakati/' 

you have become very poor. 

c*t^ c*f^ generally refers to the fact of a man being involved 

in debt and difficulty, the usual phrase being «(tc^c^ c^^ c*tf^^1 ^^ 

(dhdrere pen peniyd hal), became involved in debt. Perhaps the 

proverb explodes the idea of the good effects of entertaining 

" bhakats." The latter have very considerable appetites, as the 

saying ^f*T «1tc^ ^c^ ^Tt ^"^^ ^t^ (kani pdre hdhe khdi bhakat 

ddhe ) shows. The above means that, as soon as the ducks 

lay eggs, the " bbj^kats " eat them up. 


3§' Jmprovideme, 

5ffss ^t^ 5tn ^t^f%, 

Oat ndi chdl b^kali, 
Mad khdi tin tekeli. 

He bas nothing to cover himself with, 
But he drinks three pots of rice-beer. 

fIi literally skin, '^^ is ^^ ^ttf^ ( Mo pdni ) or the Bengali 
** pachwai,^' which is a liquor fermented from boiled rice. 1^ is 
largely drunk by the aboriginal people of Assam — Kacharis, 
Miris, and Deoris are particularly fond of it. It is not an 
unpleasant drink when fresh, its taste being a bitterish sub-acid. 
Hodgson gives the following description of how the Bodo 
( Kachiri ) brews it : — " The grain is boiled ; the root of a plant 
called, ^tc^f?^, 'dgechitdj' is mixed with it ; it is left to ferment for 
two days in a nearly dry state ; water is then added quantum 
sufficit ; the whole stands for three or four days, and the liquor is 
ready. In Goalpara the * bora mad,' which is the * mad ' of the 
Rabhas, is a fermented liquor made from *bord dh^n.' The follow- 
ing ingredients also are added : — leaves of the jack tree, leaves of 
a plant called *bhatai tita, and long pepper. The Assamese ^nia(V 
is very similar in taste to the Naga ' zu,' although the former is 
perhaps preferable." 

The proverb applies to an extravagant drunkard. Christian 
gives a Bihar saying, which it is interesting to quote, because it 
expresses the same idea, i.e. (mdur najure tdri)=**^Q cannot 
afford rice gruel, yet he drinks toddy I" 

39. Improvidence, 

Mane mukhe ^chbe mabar gakhire ka(n)har bdtiye ndi. 
He bas the mind and mouth, but ba8 uot the ve£fel or the buSallo mijk, 


40. Improvidence. 

fsiBt^ ^t^f% C^^^ ^^ I 

Fachi grihashtar Ion fcel bay, 
Micbdr bdkali ne jai kbai. 

Although the host spends much oil and salt. 
He cannot prepare a good prawn curry. 

But the skin or the prawn is not rubb-d off. 

'^fb literally is truly. f^5l is the fresh-water prawn or *' ching- 
ari," in Kamrup f^?^1 iiichhala. 'f^ means decay, waste, loss, or 
destruction, but when used in Assamese, as here, with the verb 
1t^>«i, it means to wear off. 

41. Improvidence. 

Hdtat nai b.'t, 

Mane ka e pit jit. 
He has no mo::ey in hi d. 
But his cravings are {jreat. 

f'^^Jiterally gall, bile. f<^ literally wealth, substance. 

42. Ingratitude. 

T^n pSle Biirt bole. 
When in distress, a mau calls on R^ma. 

This proverb is not confined to Assam. There is a similar 
one in Bengali, and probably in Hindi. The proverb means that 
in times of prosperity, there is a want of gratitnde to Bdma ; it 
is only in times of distress that a man calls on his god. 


43. Laying pitfalls for others, 

Kot^r gharar kuti, 

Lokalai bull hul pdti, 

Apuni mare phuti. 
He who lays thorns for others, 
Dies amongst them himself. 

The first line means nothing, and is merely inserted for pur- 
poses of ryhme. \1^ {phuti) literally means pierced, or rather 
burst asunder. 

44. Love of false display. 

*fir^^ csrt^^l ■^^■v^ c^t^tc^t^ 1 

Paliba noaura rudrdkhyar jotajot. 
There are many rosaries, the beads of which are not told in devotion. 

The proverb means that rosaries are as often as not worn for 
show as for devotional purposos. 'F^t^ is the seed of the 
elceocarpus ganitrus (Gamble), the hard tubercled nuts of which 
are polished and made into rosaries and bracelets. c^ft^ti^wT^ 
literally great many from csrtc^t^l, to join together. 

45. Ijo<ce of false display, 

Pokarat nai murat pag, 
Si hai dehatar ag. 

With a pagri on his head, 

And with nothing on the lower part of his body, 

he wishes to take the lead 

The Assamese thinks if he puts on a turban, this is a mark 
of respectability, and he will be thought a "^t^ lt^? {bhdl mdnuh) 
or respectable person, ^t^ is short for *it^f^ i 



42: Love of false display. 

B^tat chowa ja Ji bar churiy^r pher, 

Gharat jow^ jadi dhakuar ber. 

If you meet him on the road, see the folds of his dhuti. 

If you go to his house, (see) the walls are made of the bark of 

the tamul tree. 

Another proverb with a meaning very similar to the last — 

** The man puts on fine clothes to go out walking, but his house 

is toppling down." The "dhuti" worn by the ^t'^ 'its^^ (5A<i/ 

mdnuh) has as many yards of stuff in it as it is possible to walk 

in. F^"?1 is the sheath or bark of the areca nut tree. 

^'* Love of false display. 

Mukhalai chdle bar deka, 
Pokaralai ehdle kandakat^. 

The front view shows a fine young man, 
But the back is a sight for tears. 

Another proverb conveying the same meaning as 44i and 45. 
Also cf. the proverb — <[tf^':^ ^' 5'v f^^c^ c^tH ^t^f^, outside it is fair 
to see, but inside it is kowd bhdfiiri. The latter is the fruit of a 
creeper (momordica monodelpha), of which the outside is a bril- 
liant scarlet, but the inside is empty. 

48' Love of fake display. 

Sdt purushat nai gdi, 
Kariyd lai khirabalai jdi. 

His family had no cow for seven generations. 
But he takes a " kariyd " and goes a milking. • 


The proverb means that the man's forefathers were too poor 
to be able to keep any cows ; but when he gets one cow, he makes 
a great show of going to milk with a ^' kaHyd''^ or milkpan. 
^f^?i1 is really a bamboo chungd. The bamboo is cut about a 
foot above a joint, and the hollow portion inside serves to hold the 
liquid. Milk is generally carried in such chungds, and they 
are generally used for milking. 

49. Love of false display, 

• Sat seriya kabi khud chaular bhdt, 

Kliowar J3 dhik dhik shunaro laj. 

The dish is of seven seers weiglit, but the meal is of broken rice. 
Fie on him who eats it. It is a shame even to hear about it. 

A ^tf^ is a metal dish ; such dishes are sold according to 
weight of metal. A seven-seer dish would be an expensive one* 
l»f is the refuse of rice or broken grains, left in the winnowing 
fan after the rice has been winnowed. 

50. Lying and exaggeration. 

Gat nai kdni, chhutia shalikai nile tdni. 

Although he had not a rag on his body, the chhutid shalika 

pulled off his clothes. 

There are two kinds of ^tf^^l, the ^^ ^tf^^1 and the ^^^ ^tf^-^1, 
the latter being the bird that talks ; both are of the maina species. 
The meaning of the proverb is that a man who is reduced to 
extreme poverty is subjected to ill-treatment even by inferiors. 

^^n:^ ♦^ ;:5"i3e^ ^' ^^ ^^ n 

-■tu: B rmaz. ^mz^ 



iSlulcKi ai Uiii k«, (oiUk^; jii tim gun* 

H« dl«(li ifQ4 lasi alt in oiK»kiQ;f VQjS«bM«s, 

Im* Um« tines tia« «iiCHHit (ot tjult) 90^ in mitldBg tJ«d, 

Hie Qtdinuy Assamese meal oonsista of — 

it («) fish or wM (d&l) oooked« or 

(ft) fish and Tef»etakte oooked togeUier. 

liL In idditioii to the seoond, or as a substitute for it, a kind 
of salad is made ; this is called **pi^ka** by the Assamese, This 
is made £ram potatoes^ Tegetables, and chillies. 

The proreri) is a warning as:ainst false eoonomy, because it 
eo^ to less to ose oommoa salt in oooking 'than to make 

Penny wise IMMmi fixUisk, 

Sere aen Jii poviihi klnde* 
8mb go a^oij, bat he crie« «fter the qoutaMMK. 

07. PeertsJUiest. 

NiA he n^^ULo, kghoneo a^io^ 
Gato BidiD d«kh. 

If tbsre & MBiioif to eift I won't eat» mt tiie sune time I maN; fast. 

I Ktm't give my body ony troaUe. 

This should be more froperl j laainess. The last line of the 
pioTeib should be, I think, the motto of the Assamese, for he 
aboTe an things^ giring himself tha least trouble. 


68. Tresumption. 

Ki nahabar hal, poklagi hatalai gal. 

What a " contre tempi " has occurred, 

the woman covered with sores has gone to the market. 

Cif^ ^fn literally, full of maggots. 

59. Fresumption. 

^5 ^5 b^ ^t^ ^^1, 

Khach khach kai kata gua, 
Tumi jena amar kiba howa. 

(T Bi?) you are cutting the fcetclaut quickly. Are you in some way 

rtlated to me? 

Assamese women are supposed to give hetelnut only to their 
husbands. The proverb illustrates a pliase of a rustic " affaire- 
du-ccBurJ' ^^1 is the same as '^c^\^ {tdmol), betelnut. 

60. The pot calling the kettle black, 

Nijar pokar t^ktekiya, 
Lokar pokaralai pani chatiyd. 

Throwing water at the buttocks of others, 
When one's own are wet. 

61. Pride of family. 

Norn negur barjit, 
Makar n^m bar pohari, 
B^pekar ndm Kanjit, 


Although it has no hair on its body and no tail, 
It says its mother's name is Earpohdri, 
And its father's Ranjit. 

The first line describes a mangy cur. Notwithstanding its 
miserable condition, the animal is proud of its lineage, ^^ cflrlf?. 
Assamese women who sell odds and ends, are called **pohdri" 
X^ is here used ironically, ^f^^ is a high-sounding name, only 
met with in good families. 

62. Hestlesfness. 

^oH^ ''it^ i^ ^^. 

'J^l 51?! 5n« C#l Tf« I 

Bh^ngi in rauchari khdo, 

Pua hale ndo meli jdo. 
Sreak and bring everything (that we have) and let v.'^ eat it to^ay. 
Let us start in the boat tomorrow morning. 

63. Selfishness. 

Anar dn ehintd, bori baniunir dukhan kdnar chinti. 
Others have other thonghts, but the old Brahmin 

woman thinks only of her two ears {i.e., her earrinors). 

Christian, in his Bihar proverb, gives a Hindi proverb, which 
is very similar in meaning : — 

Ano Tee dn chintdf ram ke rdjawe he ehintd. 

Others have other thoughts, but the Ra' I 

has thoughts of tl e Raja only. 

Christian says the proverb is applied to one who is intent on 
his own thoughts only, regardless of others. 


64. Hyprocrisy. 

^t^ ^^f^^ (AW\ ^^, 

«1t^ ^j:^ "S"^^ I 

Ai gaichhil gosain gliaralai, 

Mai goiclihilo lagat, 

Akhai kala khabalai p^i, 

Tdte halo bhakat. 
My mother went to the house of the gosain, 
I accompanied her. 

When I got '* dJchai " and plantains to eat, 
I became a " Ihakaty 

Perhaps this is a hit at the " bhahats. ** Apparently, the 
qualification for admission to the " sattra " as a " bhakat " 
is to be able to appreciate fried paddy (dkhai) and plantains. 

66. Egotism. 

^tC?l1 ^^ 'si-et^R ^V9 I 

Apon^r man jene, 

Ataike dekhe tene, 

Jano man ataire eke. 
He thinks that every body else^s mind is like his own. 
As if the minds of all are alike. 

The proverb is interesting as illustrating the use of 'Sftr^l l 
This literally means, I know. In conversation, however, ^c^n 
often means, I doubt, almost I do'nt believe you. 

66. Stinginess, 

Kh^iehhe akhaiyd gome dhan dicche edon. 
He is bitten by a poisonous snake {dkhaiyd gom) and he gives 
one don of Indian corn, that is to say, to the ojha or quack 


67* Selfishness. 

^c^ ^c«( ^z^ m mim] c^\mi ^ 

55T Of? ^^^ ^ C^C^^I C^tsft^ '^'f I 

Mudhe mudhe eke ghar sodho sodho buli 

Hal der bachhar sakhi lieno tomdr jar. 

"We live alongside one another 

For the last year and a halE I have been intending 
to ask you, dear friend, how is your fever. 

\^ is the ridgepole of the house. The expression ^c^ ^^ is- 
used when two houses are so close that their roofs touch one 
another, c^m] means I think. 

68^ Sponging on others. 

*f^^ -^^ ^t^, ^i^^1 «^t^^ J^t^ I 

Parar murat khao(n), bhatiyd panit 3^o(n)t 
I live upon others, and go with the tide. 
The proverb probably means that he who lives on others, has 
to go along with the tide and sink all individuality of character. 

^1^^1 literally is down-stream as opposed to ^^t^ (ujdn) 

69' Peculiarities. 

Ji deshar ji dhara, ji pokarar ji ner^. 
Every country has its own customs, 

70. Stinginess. 

^tCT T^^V^ ^^ ^^^ ^tt I 
Dio(n)te diye dhan kherar chdi, 
Take diotei much kach jai. 

"When he gives (at all), he gives the ashes of paddy straw, 
And even in giving this he feels faint. 


71« Stinginess. 

Lokar shabbalai jaba. 
Amar diyan tboan chaba. 

Go to a gathering at some one elsj's house, 
(And then) ee3 my liberality. 

72' Toadying. 

^tc^l cwf^ ^\i% ^tCF, 
Mi'^X c^R ^^t^ ^t;:^ [ 

Kako dekhi randhe b^re, 
Kako dekhi duwar bandhe. 

When (the host) sses some peopti, he cooks and serves 

them (a meal). 
And when he sees others, he bars the door.. 

73. Trickery. 

Teliyai kande tel pelai^ 
Kapahuwai kande let petai. 

The oil-seller weeps for the oil that is spilt. 

The cotton-dealer weeps and soaks (his cotton in the tears). 

The cotton-dealer is not a man like the oilman, who " cries 
ever split milk," hut finds a way out of the diflSculty. The latter 
part of the prorerh, perhaps, refers to a practice which came 
tinder my personal ohservatiou when in the Golaghat suhdivision. 
The cotton is brought down from the hills by Nagas or other 
hillmen, who almost invariably soak it in water, or even sometimes. 


put stones inside the bundle, to make the cotton weigh heavier. 
The cotton- dealer, who is not to be outdone, soaks the salt, which 
is generally bartered for the cotton, in water for the same reason. 
The translation I have given for c^^ c^^t^, although not strictly 
literal, conveys the meaning, which is meant to be a sarcasm on 
dealings of these cotton merchants, c^^ c^^t^ more correctly 
means having plastered. 

'J'4. I)ouble advantage. 

Ekei buri naehaniyar, t^te natiniekar biyd. 

The old woman Is a capital dancer berself^ 

And now is the occasion of her granddaughter's marriage. 

%. Want of feeling. 

Kaliyabarat paiyek maril, 

Dheki dio(n)te manat paril. 
Her husband died at Kaliabar but 
She remembers (his death) when working the dAeiu 

■^^^^ is in the Kowgong district, where there is a temple 
dedicated to Kdmakhya, used to be regarded as a holy place. 
The proverb means that, although the husband was a man of 
some piety, the widow only thought of him after his death 
when she was working the dheki (paddy-husker), i.e., she did not 
remember any of his good qualities. 



Class 11. 


76. A small income and much feasting. 

Alap arjan bistar bhojan, 
Sei purnshar daridrar lakhyan. 
A small income and much feasting, 
Are the signs of a man becoming poor. 

^t#5T= gain, income ; ^^«l= a mark or token. 

77. On trying to teach fools. 

Ajnanik jndn di manat palo kashta, 
Kanibor bhangi pelai baho karilo nashta. 

In teaching an ignorant person I became troubled in mind, for he broke 
the nest and destroyed our eggs. 

This proverb refers to a folk tale related in the Mitopadesh 
whicli is as follows : There was a large sim^ul tree frequented by a 
colony of parrots who laid their eggs in the hollow of the tree. 
An old parrot used to keep guard over the eggs of the other 
parrots in their absence. One day a wild cat tried to climb the 
tree, but the old parrot objected. The former, however, by dint 
of flattery and fair speeches caused the parrot to be off his guard 
and succeeded in climbing the tree and eating the eggs. The old 
parrot, when he saw what had happened, spoke the saying 


78. Save nothing to do with three things, 

fsf^T^SC^I '^^ -^ ^tk \ 

Asatir sad jnan, 
Garu chorar Ganga snan, 
Beshya ti'rir ekadasi, 
Tiaioro murat muta bahu 

Have nothing to do with these three things : 
Honesty in an unchaste woman, 

A cattle-thief bathing in the Ganges, 
A harlot fasting on an ekddasi day. 

79. The importunate' s answer. 

C^t"^ §^ ^^ 1^1 ^tf^ I 

Apuni anichho magi, 
Tok dim kar para hagi. 

I myself have got by begging, 

80. Anticipating, 

Agei pakhi kate, 
Kei dinar nomaL 

He cuts the wings of the unfledged nestling beforehand. 

literally the youngest of all. 


81. Times of affliction. 

Apadat oeo gal khajuwai. 
In times of affliction even the owtenga tickles the throat. 

The owtenga Dillenia indica (Watt) is an acid fruit surrounded 
by fleshy accrescent calyces, which, when the fruit is 
full grown (in March), have an agreeably acid taste, and are 
eaten by the Assamese, either raw or cooked, chiefly in curries. 
The acid juice sweetened with sugar forms a cooling drink. The 
Bengali name of the fruit is chalta. A portion of the fruit is 
also used pounded with kharani by Assamese women and used by 
them as hair wash. 

cf^ — ^t^^^ ^t^ C^K'^k *t^ ^^ {dpadat gdr nomei shatru liai.) 

In times of affliction, even the hair of one's body is an enemy. 

82. Oive a polite answer. 

Achhe dan nai samidhan. 
Give if you can ; at any rate, say something poHte. 
'ifsi^t^ literally giving an answer. 

83. When all scruples must be thrown to the winds. 

Apadat ajugut karibalai juyai. 

In times of adversity, all scruples must be 

thrown to the winds. 

^^^=Bengali "^^c^^J (unbefitting.) 

84. On aiming too high. 

XJthuwai mdrile kathi, 
Jalowa domar sdtjani tirutd 
Shubalai natile pati. 


This proverb contains a double entendre, bnt it may be trans- 
lated as follows : 

He rose up and threw the net. 

The Ja^owa Dom has seven wives, 

But his bed is not large enough to contain them. 

^ttl is a thin piece of bamboo used in making bamboo or 
wicker work, ^ttl ^1^ is a kind of fishing net. '^tl^ is literally- 
mat. The Jalowa Dom is the Dom who fishes in contradistinc- 
tion to the Halowa Dom, the Dom who ploughs. 

85. The petty shop-keeper. 

Eda beparik jahajar batari kiya. 
"Why does a petty shop-keeper want with news of the steamer ? 
^^\ c^^tft literally a shop-keeper who sells ginger (^^1). 

86. Do one thing at a time. 4 

Orokate porok, 
Kerela to sumudi diy^ 
Bengena to porok. 

Do one thing at a time, 

But the her eld into the boiling rice, 

And then roast the bengena. 

c^c^^l is the Bengali "^^^^ Hindi koraila. 
The kerela is the momordica charantia, a very bitter kind 
of vegetable of the gourd family. It is a creeping plant. 

87- Learning. 

Ojd laga bidya, 
Pakhi laga kar. 


Learning under a teacher. 

An arrow "with feathers, 
(Are both effective). 

^^ is a magician, or more frequently an exorcist. Vide note 
to Proverb No. 17. 

88» Circumstantial evidence, 

^iP\ CBt^^ <fl^t^ 'It'ft I 
Hd(n)h chorar murat p^khi, * 
Kathdl chorar ethai sdkhi. 
The feathers stick to the head of the duck-stealer. 
And the gnm is evidence against the jack fruit-stealer. 

■^M^ is the jack tree and its fruit. Sanskrit ^^'^ (kantak); 
both the bark of the tree and the fruit are covered with a 
sticky juice or gum. 

89. A person with a great idea of his own importancei 

^^ *r^i ^tf^^i "^^ fw^Ti ^, 

Kar pard ahila kat dila bhari, 
Chotal khdn phati gal chet chet kari. 

Whence do you come ? 

"Wherever you trod on the courtyard, it split in pieces. 

Literally, whence comest thou ? This is said ironically to- « 
Bomebody who gives himself airs, c^"^ C5^ is one of the many 
Assamese expressions for conveying the sense of sound. Another 
Buch onomatopoeic expression is ^n i^% also ^f {yring), C5^^ 

C5^^ "^ convey the idea of noise in splitting or tearing asunder. 


80. On appearing on the " Chatai " Bill, 

Kihar jagarat mara 
. Chatai parbatat gdto 
Dekhddi adhali 
Pdchota bharo. 

What fault have I committed ? 
I have appeared on the Chatai hil]. 
And have to pay five eight-anna pieces. 

The 5^t^ ^^^ is a mythical hill, which was supposed to be 
situated somewhere in the Sibsagar district. The proverb applies 
to the case of a person who has to pay a fine for some imaginary 

91. Carelessness, 

Kakalat kachi 

Buri phure nachi. 
The tickle is on the waist of the old woman, 
Who impatiently looks for it elsewhere. 

02. Quarrelling for no reason. 

Kathd b^ kat bhekuri talat. 

Where is your reason (for quarrelling), it is underneath 

the bhekuri Lush. 

C31[f^ is a kind of scrub jungle. 

This proverb applies to cases of quarrels about nothing; 


^3« Selfishness* 

Kar jarat kone piye p^ni, 

Kar bhagiaa mare kar hai hdni. 

Who drinks water when another is thirfty. 
Whose neph ew dies it is his loss. 

The proverb aptly illustrates the way of the world in such 
cases. ^tf^1 or ^tf^^ is a sister's sou. 

^4. X'he reward of merit. 

c^^ c^t^ c^z^ ^f^ ^'If^fl c^^ f^f^T ^fsf, 

Kene tor kene jani phapariya tor tini jani, 
Bhal tor ejanio nai. 

What a wife for such a man, 

The worthless has three wives, the worthy none ! 

As a rule, Assamese have but one wife, or two at the most, 
but occasionally, amongst well-to-do people of the old-fashioned 
class, the luxury of three wives is indulged in. f 1f^^1, literally 

W» JDon^t be too discriminating. 

Kdko nubulibd kakS, 
Etaire dari chuli pakd. 
Don't caM anyone (of them) grandfather ; 
They have all of them got white hair and beards- 
The proverb means that all are equally cunning, and that 
one must not single out any particular person and call him "^^j 


a clever old fellow. ^^ literally means ripe, as a fruit it so 
comes to mean mature. 

It is interesting to compare a Bihar proverb given by 
Christian in his ** Bihar Proverbs," which means very much the 
same as the Assam proverb above. 

Kekar kekar lihi (w) nao {n) kamra orJile sagare gdo {n). 
which Christian translates — " Whom am I to name ? All the 
villages are similarly circumstanced I (Literally, all are alik^» 
covered with blankets, i.e.t poor, in the same boat.)" 

98. Assamese recipe/or managing a wife, 

Katari dharaba Bhile, tirota babd kile. 

"Whet your knife on the grindetone. 
Sway your wife "with blows. 

This is the Assamese recipe for managing a wife, f^'f is 
a blow given with the elbow, and represents the pommelling 
given to a person when he is lying prostrate. This is one ol 
DdVs proverbs. 

67. The one-eyedy the lame, and the crooked, 

Kan^, khora, bbengur, 

Ei tini haramar lengur. 
The one-eyed, the lame, and the crooked, 
These three are a tail of ill. 

There are various Indian proverbs regarding one-eyed, 
squint-eyed, and grey-eyed people being untrustworthy, so that 
the Assamese are not alone in their idea. 

Christian gives the following proverbs, amongst others, in 
his Bihar Proverbs : — 

" {Birle kdn hhal hJial manukh), i.e., Rarely do you meet 
with a one-eyed man who is a gentleman." 



Also the following Urdu saying on the same subject, where 
a forced pun is made on the Arabic word kan = is : 

"Kane ki badzatiya(n) haiii mere dil J'aqin, 
Ayi hai Qordn me (n) kan me (ii) alkafrin." 

Of the wickedness of the one-eyed I am thoroughly convinced, 

BecauB9 even in the Qordn it is said that the one-eyed is among the 

88* Useless cravings, 

Khdbaloi ndi kanto, 
Bar habalai manto. 

He who has not a grain (of rice) to eat, 
Has a mind to become great. 

■^ 13 th* eye or germ of a seed, that which germinates or 
reproduces an atom. — (Bronson). So it comes to mean anything 
email. Young children are often called ^*i or '^H ^^1, ^^ c^T^t^ i 

99. JExaggeration. 

Gachhat garu uthi, 
Holongare kan bindha. 

As wonderful as a bullock climbing a tree. 

Or the lob3 of tha ear being pierced with a holongd. 

Men as well as women bore their ears in Assam. When an 
earring is not worn, a piece of wood is inserted to keep the hole 
from closing up. Sometimes paper or cotton is used, but 
generally a cylindrically -shaped piece of wood. A c^t^t^l is a 
bamboo, used for carrying bundles of paddy, when reaping and 
carrying is going on. The bundles of dhdn (paddy) are slung on 
to each end of the holongd in equal proportions, so that the 


holongd balances on the shoulder. In this way all burdens are 
carried in Assam, but the word c^!c^t«f1, I believe in Upper Assam 
is only applied to the pole used for carrying dhdn, ^^t^tf^ to the 
word for the bamboo that is used for carrying other burdens. 

100. Laughing at others t misfortunes. 

C^X^ ^\\ C^t^, 'itt'l ^tc^ c^t^, 

Ghok bai ghok, sdpe khale tok, 
Machhti pale mok. 

Thrust your hand, sister, thrust your hand into the hole, 
If there be a snake it will bite you, but if thera be a fish let me have it. 

This is said in chaff by one girl fishing to another likewise 

101' Useless cravings. 

Gharat nai kanto, bar sabhdlai manto. 

He has not a grain of rice in his house, but he -wishes to hold a big 

This is almost similar to No. 97, except that 1^1 is sub- 
stituted for the verb '^<t^ i Also compare the Kdmrup proverb 
"^^tn^^t^'P^c"1^^>[^tt^5I5?c^1 {urdlat ndi kantoy bar sahhdlai 
manto). The ^^t^ or ^^t^r is a wooden mortar used for pounding 
rice in. 

102. Mow things are tested, 

tf"^ f^ *tf^^ I 

Ghordk chini k£nat, 
Tirik chini tanat, 
Khurak chini shanat. 


A horse is known by his ears, 
A woman in times o£ adversity, 
And a razor on a whetstone. 

The idea here is that a good horse keeps his ears erect ; a 
virtuous wife will be faithful in adversity ; and a good razor does 
not break on the whetstone. As to the faithfulness of women, 
horses, etc., cf. the Persian proverb :— 

*' Asp o zan o shamsher-i-tez wafadar ke did." 
What man ever saw a horse, a woman, or a sword faithful f 
t5 (khur) (or khyur) is the usual word for razor. *tt^ is a 
grindstone or whetstone. This is one of D^k*s sayings. 

103. The irony of fate. 

Chore niye lapha dai, 
Girlhat mare kharali khdi. 

When the thief steals the " laphd" 

The householder consoles himself with hharalu 

An amusing comment on the irony of fate, perhaps. The 
w\^\ ^\7^ is a common Assamese vegetable, "^^t^^leaves and stalks 
of vegetables cooked dry. ^t^ literally reaps. 

<t^pi ^t^ means suffers inconvenience. 

104. Sudden misfortunes. 

(3\T^ atc^ 1tc«r, 

Chorak more pale, 
Ta(n) tik barale khdie. 

The thief was seized with colic, 
And a wasp stung the weaver. 

Both of these are intended to be instances of sudden and 
unexpected mishap. 


105. * Inevitable. 

Chaparile megb erdba ne. 
Can a rain cloud be avoided by bending down ? 

106. Never waste a moment. 

Jar kbabar jibar raan, 
Baboteo ajore ban. 

He who has a mind to thrive. 

Scratches up grass, even when sitting down. 

^t^? ^^? 5IST literally, the mind for eating and living. The 
proverb means that people who wish to succeed, should never 
waste a moment, which may be devoted to work. The grass 
referred to is that growing in a man's garden or field. 

107. Working in amity. 

Jetheri bainai hal, 
Kihar pal e pal. 

"What turns are there in the ploughings of brothers-in-law. 
c^M^= a wife's elder brother. '^^^tt= a younger sister's 

nt*\ is the word usually applied to a turn of any kind of duty. 
^t*r, literally, plough. 

108. On being taken to task for a trijling fault. 

Jagar ba lagalo ki, 
Mato ha(Q)h kani di. 


What fault have I committed ? 

I beg pardon and present you with a duck's egg. 
5itc^1 is an idiomatic term for " I beg your pardon." 
The proverb refers to the case of a person who thinks he is 
taken to task for a trifling fault. 

109. The light of a lamp amid the glare of a torch. 

(m\^^ ^^^ ^tf^^ c^!^'! I 

Jorar agat bdtir pohar. 
The light of a lamp amid the glare of a torch. 
The proverb means that the feeble light of a lamp would not 
be noticed in the strong light given by a torch. 

Y[Q, Sleep is pleasant. 

Topanir chikan pud. 

Katarir chikan gud. 
To sleep in the early morning is pleasant. 
A good knife is required to cut betelnut. 

This proverb is characteristic of the Assamese. 

111. The punishment of sin, though tardy, perhaps is sure. 

^U\ ^m^ «ttc^ c^5fi, 

Tahd niyo khale tengd, 
Etiyd pdlehi jenga. 
He ate the " tengd " a long time ago, 
And he is blamed now I 
The proverb refers to the case of a man whose sin has found 
him out. He stole the orange and eat it long ago, and he gets 
into hot water about it now I 

c^'fl means an offence, anything at which exception is taken. 


112- Meum and tuum. 

Tor hale mor, mor hale bupereo ne pai tor. 

"What is yours is mine, but what is mine cannot be got even 

by your father. 

113. Ingratitude, 

Thdi dibar gun, tap tapani shun. 
The result of giving a person a place, is to hear him grumble. 

The proverb means that, if you give a person a place at 
a feast, in all probability he will not thank you for your courtesy, 
but will only grumble. 

114. False pride. 

■^tf^^^ ^\mi.^ *it^^^ '^t^t I 

Dolar ndmere sbikiyate jabd, 
Gakhirav namcre patiike kbabd. 
In tha name of a dooly you are carried slung on a pole. 
In the name of milk you dri:ik water. 
OflTl is the Bengali ^f^, a litter for carrying people in. f^ff^sl 
is a contrivance of ropes for slinging burdens on to a bamboo. 

115. The use of the thumb. 

^\\ (X^f^iw.^ ^\\ I 

Daho angulire khai, 
Burai he(n)chukilehe jai. 

AW the ten fingers are used in eating. 
But it is the thumb that has to push tha eatables into the mou^h 
The Assamese takes up the rice in the hollow of his hand 
and then crams it into his mouth, using the thumb to push it in—! 
not a very elegant way of eating. \?1 "^^f^ (the chief finger). 


116. Many hands make light work. 

?^t^t^ *itt^ ^-^ c^^ I 

Dahot^r lakhuti etar bojd. 
The staves of ten men are a load to one man. 
cf. — The Bihar proverb given by Christian — 
** {Das ha lathi eh ha bojh). The idea conveyed is the same 
as in our proverb " Many hands make light work." 

117. ** Evils never come singly. ^^ 

Dur kapaliya habilai jai, da chige barale kMi. 

The unfortunate one goes to the wood, 

and his " da " breaks, and a wasp stings him. 

This is a case of ** Evils never come singly." ^'\^ is the 
Bengali c^H^1 (a wasp). The use of '^t is noteworthy ; it means 
(literally) eats. The Assamese has no regular word for sting. 
c/.— itc^ ^tc«l (sh^pe khdle) a snake bit him — literally eat him. 

118. Bow the poor are despised. 

^f^^l ^C^T c^i:^^1 ^t^Jtt C^WA h"^, 

Dukhiyd bale letera bharjyai nedekhahit, 

Bat at lag pai mitire nosodhe diba lage bull kiba bit. 

When letera (the sloven) becomes poor, 

his wife does not esteem him ; 
"When his friends meet him by the way, they take no notice 

of him, fearing tbey will have to help him with money. 

The first proverb is an illustration of our own saying that 
''When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window.'* 
The second part shows the way of the world in such cases, c^ic'f^^l, 
the man's name in this proveb, literally means a sloven, ^j^fl is 
a Sanskrit word for wife. The common Assemese word is ^^f^ 
(ghaini). f^^s lilerally means advantageous, profitable. CJ't^^t-^ 
(literally) do not ask after him. f^^ is a synonym fop ^^ (dhan). 


119. When everything has gone wrong, 

Dhekito larak pharak katarato bhag^, 
Kon kalai gal tarahe laga. 

The dheki has become unsteady, the po^t is broken, 
How can I say who has gone where. 

■^^^1 is the stand on which the dheU works. 

120. Idiosjncrasies. 

Dhantoye pati kanto, 
Manuhtoye pati manto. 

Each grain of paddy has its grain of rice ; 
Each person has his idiosyncrasy. 

The first line is put in with the idea of throwing additional 
emphasis on the second line. As a matter of fact, it is incorrect 
that each grain of paddy contains a grain of rice, as any Assamese 
peasant will tell you, or you can see for yourself. A certain 
number of grains in each ear contain nothing. The Assamese 
call such *t^t^ (patdn). 

121. A good piece of advice, 

Dhan laba lekhi, bat buliba dekhi. 
Count money first before you take it over, 
And see the road as you walk, 

^f'T'^l means to walk, to pass. 

?!^ ^f^^i Cff^, walk with your eyes open. 

A very sensible piece of advice. 


128. By per gamy. 

Navakar kanya uddhurilei shuchi. 
A girl (bride) from hell is purified when taken up. 

Even girls of a lower status in society are allowed to be 
married by men of a higher status, in the same caste, cf. 
Manu " #t^f ' ^l^itfipt I " ^'^^ is one of the many infernal regions 
enumerated in the Hindu books. Manu speaks of twenty- one 
hells and gives their names. Other authorities vary greatly as 
to the numbers and names of the hells. (See Vishnu Puran, II, 
214, and Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology.) 

123- Cutting off the tiger's tail. 

Negur kati bagh ehongalai melile. 
They cut off the tiger's tail, and then let him loose in his hsunt. 

This refers to the inadvisability of letting off a bad cha- 
racter with alight punishment. 

124- ji name that bodes ill-luck. 

Ndmar parichhe sang duarat mdrdhi ddng. 
The nam (singing of religious songs) is over, shut the door. 
Tt? finished, over. 
It is usual to shut the door of the namghar when prayers 
are over. 

125. " Feople who live in glass houses should not throw stones. 

5it^tf# C^!"^, ^^f^^ o^t^ I 
Nahahibi mok, khuchariba tok. 
Don't laugh at me, you will catch the contagion (if you do). 

People who laugh at others' misfortunes, are thus advised. 
The proverb means, do not laugh at another's misfortune 
lest it befalls you. 


126. Ill-gotten gains. 

Papar dhan praysbehittat jai. 
Monpy got by unfair meaii3, goes ill expiations. 
The <2ttiif»5'^ is imposed by the " gosaint* or spiritual guide* 
It consists of {a) money payment to the gosain, (b) penance, c) 
certain duties to he performed. 

127. Don't lose time in partaking of a meal when it is ready, 

<1tC^ 5^tt ^tfsf ^1 ^\% CV^\ ^t^^ ^ ^=^1 ^tf^ I 

Pale charai bhangibd pakbi, howa bhdtak na thaba rakbi. 

Wben you bave caught a bird, break its wings. 

Don't delay in eating rice which is ready. 

128. Three people should always be intent on their work. 

*icF, *f7t^, c^m itJT, 

Parbe, parbai, roye pan, 
Ei tiniye nichinte ^n. 
He who reads, be who teachas, be who sows pan, 
These three should not think of anything else. 
The cultivation of the pan vine requires some attention. This 
is one of Dak's sayings. 

129. Want of wordly wisdom, 

Parhi sbuni karile biya, chore lai gal bhuyd diya. 
A man married afer acquiring knowledge. 
But he was deceived and his wife was stolen away by a thief. 

130. Want of tact, 

Batat lag pale kamar, da gari diya amar. 

They met the blacksmith on the road and said " Make a 

knife for us.'* 

i.e.^ they expected the blacksmith to be able to make a " da. " 
for them when he was away from his forge. 

The above saying is quoted in the case of an untimely request 
or invitation. 


131. One who is always in hoi water. 

^t^'&l It^^^ C^A^ S?^^, ^Tf\t 5^^^ ^^1 ^^^ I 

Burata mahar teratd jagar, eadai nuguchhe etd lagar. 
In twelve months thirteen scrapes, 
I cannot exist without getting into hot water. 

This is the complaint of somebody who is always in trouble. 

132. Opposites, 

Ballye nirbaliye kihar hatahati, 
Dhaniye nirdhaniye kihar mitrawati. 

What paseage-of-arms can there be between the strong and 

the weak 
What friendship can there be between the rich and the poor. 
^^ means a strong man. 

^R also means a sacrifice, ^^t^f^ means hand-to-hand conflict ; 
also two people working together at the same task, f'l'^t^^t is the 
same as f^if^^tf^, which means friendship. 

133. So terrible that even Bhaghanta and Basudev are afraid. 

Bhayat Bhagabanta palai kilalai Basudeo darai. 
Bhagabanta even flies from fear, and Basudev is afraid that 

he will be beaten. 
^f^^ or ^^fJ? is ^^u\^^ (Parmeswar), ^t^c^ is another name 
for f^ (Krishna). 

134. Bitter words are hard to hear. 

^^^ f%^1 ^Ul^ ^H it^^ f%^l ^\^h[ ^t^ I 

Bhdtar tita khabalai bhal, mdtar tita khabalai t^n. 
It is possible to eat bitter rice, but it is hard to hear bitter words, 

^t^^ f%N5l, jice that is flavoured with acid to make it 


J 35. From good comes good, 

Bhalar bbal sarbati k^l. 
Good comes from good for all time. 

»i^^ "^i (literally), for ever and ever. 
136. Which is the sweeter — sweet words or sweet food ? 

Bhojan mitha ne bachan mithd ? 
"Which is sweeter— sweet food or sweet words ? 

^^ also means a passage from a sacred book. 

137. Onli/ go when you are invited. 

3itf^C?l ^^t?iC^1 5irU (J{ aitf^:^ c^t^^^ ^t^t^l I 
Matile ranalaiko jaba, ne matile bhojalai najaba. 
Go to a battle even if you are summoned, 

but don't go to a feast uninvited. 

The proverb means that when you are invited even go to 
A battle at the risk of your life, but don't go uninvited to a feast. 

138. Aniicipating evil. 

Mor por bowari haba, mok chulit dhari batat thaba. 
My son will have a daughter-in-law. 
Who will catch me by the hair and throw me on the path. 

c?1^t<T, son's or younger brother's wife. The former is called 
ctl c^t^ft and the latter is called ^1^ c^fiftft i 

139. Cutting wood by no means an easy task. 

Monaiye kath kate, m^ye pani hen dekhe. 
The maternal uncle cuts wood ; 

his wife thinks it an easy job. 

*fl^ c^^, literally as easy as water. 


140. Where there is a will there is a way. 

Man karile chan kariba pari. 
If I put my mind to it, I can fiad a way to make it difficult for him. 

141- The shorter it iSj the more it tears. 

Jetekate nate, tetekate phate. 
The shorter it is, the more it t?ars. 

The proverb refers to an Assamese folk tale regarding an. 
old woman who, as fast as she sowed her mekhela (petticoat), 
the latter kept on tearing. 

142. None hut the wearer knows v)here the shoe pinches. 

Lultehe jane hatha kimana lai bahe. 
The Luhit knows how deep the oar dips. 

The Lahit is the old name for the Brahmaputra. Now-a- 
days by the Luhit is understood that portion of the Brahmaputra 
between the mouth of the " Subansiri " river and Luhit mukh. 
The saying has the same meaning as our own proverb " None 
but the wearer knows where the shoe pinches." 

143' A man of no consequence. 

itR sitf^Cl^ f^C^1, C^t^t^ ^W.^^ PlC^1 I 
Ldthi mdrileo jito, bopai bulileo sito. 
It is all the same whether you kick him or call him father. 

The saying means that it is not worth while pleasing a 
certain person, for c^t*^tt is a friendly address, ^tf^ means 
a kick given backwards at any one following up behind, ^t^ 
means a stick or a club. 


144. The boon of having a travelling companion. 

Lag hale Lankalaiko jaba pari. 
In company ona can go even as far as Lanka. 

Lanka is the name given by Hindus to Ceylon. 

145. The more haste the less speed. 

Lard lari belika jolong-at j^pi nosomdi. 
When you are in a hurry, 

you can't fit in even Q,jdpi into the knapsack. 

This saying is meant to illustrate the idea expressed in our 
own proverb " The more baste the loss speed." 

146. What makes up the house, 

Lardi luriye ghar khdn, 
Dokhorai dukhariye juhal khdn. 

Children make up the house, 
Sundries also make up the hearth. 

CWtc«(t^1 ^^ means odds and ends of firewood that are not 
burnt. ^'5t^=^^K=^^<f^1 it^=hearth. 

147" Do as you would be done by, 

^Mzi\ iitc^ ^Tl ^t^, 

Samane samane karibd kdj, 
Harile jikile nai laj. 
Deal equally with your equals, 
And then whether you succeed in life or not, you need 

not be ashamed. 
In fact, " Do as you would be done by.'* 


148 Uven little things are of profit. 

cj\\^\ ^$^ 5itR 'Ic?, 

Sola mukhat md,khi pare, 
Sio labhar bhitar. 

Even if a fly falls into a toothless mouth, 
It is a gain. 

c^t^1 means the same as ^\'^ ( Idpung ), i,e,, toothless. 

149. The kiss of love, 

Chenehar chumai nakati chinge. 
The kii3 of love wounds the tip of the nose, 
sit ^|5= literally the cartilage of the nose. f§CT=literally 
breaks asunder. 

This is an ironical expression for false love or affection. 

150. Salf a loaf is better than no bread. 

c^^i c^t^1 «(^^ cek ^5T1^ ^fi I 

Her^ powa dhanar chodha anao bhdl. 
If jou find even fourtaen annas of lost money, it is well. 

151. When the bone of contention is removed. 

^f5i c^'.^ ic^l cwm I 

Ha(n)h powali nile sene, 
Tumi jene mayo tene. 

The hawk has carried off the duckling, 
Kow we are equal. 

Literally, I am the same as you are. The hawk has carried 
off your duckling, so you can't lord it over me any longer. 


152. The man who ia Hind. 

J^pi, lathi, tana, ijak ji nalai, 
Si dinate kana. 

He who carries neither japi, lathi, nor tana. 
Is blind even in the daytime, 

Jdpi (Wif^) a wicker hat serving as an umbrella. 

^t^, a walking stick ; ^^ ( tana ), a napkin, small dhuti. 

153- " I^eople who live in glass-hotiseSi etc.'* 

Ch^i chdi bulibd bat, debar bhitarat 6ehhe khal bam, 

pichhali paribd tat. 

Look out as you move, for there are many uneven places within your own 

body, and you might slip into one of them. 

This is a sort of equivalent for " People in glass-houses 
should not throw stones." 

154' Nothing is attained without labour. 

Dukh na karile mukh nabhate. 
If you don't take trouble, you won't fill your mouth. 

155. Nothing is attained without labour, 

>I^C^'' ^fsf ^]i^ (^^1 «^^ I 
Dukhathe mukh bhar« bura loke kay, 
Sakalo guni chale michha nahay. 
Labour alone fil's the mouth, so the old folk say ; 
Every one has heard tbis and seen this ; it is not false. 
This is another proverb like the preceding one. 

n 2 


156. Silence is golden. 

■^^t^ ^C^^t^ ^t^^ § C''^ I 
Kathar duyeshar bandhar du mer. 
Two words in speaking, two rounds in a fastening. 

This means that you should not say more than is ahsolutely 
necessary on an occasion. Two rounds in a fastening refers to the 
splicing together of bamhoos when two rounds or more are made 
with the rope or cane before the knot is tied. 

167 A person not worth conciliating. 

Dhare marileo jene, gadire marileo tene. 
It is the same whether you strike with the sharp edge 

or the blunt side ( of the di). 

This saying refers to a person w^ho is so weak and insigni- 
ficant, that it is all the same whether he is your enemy or your 
friend, as he cannot injure you or benefit you. ^t^ ( dhdr ) and 
^t(^ ( gddi ) are always used, respectively, to denote the sharp edge 
and blunt side of a *• da.*' 

158- Crying over spilt milk. 

Kandile dhar shuj re jai. 

By weeping a debt is net paid. 

It is no good crying over spilt milk. 
ts^ means to liquidate, to repay a debt. 

159. A chip of. the old block. 

^tcf^ c^z^ f^^"^ asm I 

Bapek jene pitek tene. 
Like father, like son. 

i.e., the son *s " a chip of the old block." 


160- Can a leopard change Ms spots. 

Engar dhuleo baga nahay. 
Even with washing, charcoal cannot become white. 
This proverb is derived from the Sanskrit saying ** '^Tt'^ *f^ 

Also compare the Hindi proverb "^^^fc^l i^ ^c^, ^ ''it^ 'PC^ 

161. Worldly wisdom. 

T^^^ ^^^ ^\h^ ^, 

Dinar parbat ratir jui, 
Tak nekhedi thakiba shui. 
A mountain by day and a fire by night, 
Do not follow them, but remain resting. 
They are both far away though they seem to be near. 

162. Besponsibilifies ofpotoer» 

^'^ ?t^ ^'^5 "^^ I 
Jata raj tata kaj. 
Wherever there are kingdoms, there are duties to be performed. 

163. Eules of Society . 

Prabasat niyam nai. 
In a temporary residence there is no rule. 

The proverb means that, when you are away from homo, 
there is no necessity for thinking about les convenances of society. 
Another reading is — 

Pradesat niyam ndi. 
In a foreign country you need not regard rules of society. 
WitH reference to this proverb, cf. No. 82 ; also tho Bihar 
proverb given by Christian (page 70 of his book)—* 
" Jaisan des, taisan bhes." 
** Suit your behaviour to the country.'* 


164. Kalf a loaf is better them no bread, 

Eko nohow^tkai kana momaio bhal. 
A blind uncle is better than no uncle. 

Here '^^'\ is used to signify a blind person, its real meaning' 
being one-eyed. 

165. A sound piece of advice. 

Pha(n)kdema chdi lurlba khari, 
Tare kdnmari tare jari. 

When you gather firewood look out for the phanMema. 

So that you can find your stick for carrying th3 bundle of faggots on, 

as well as the fastening out of it 

The phanMema is a tree the bark of which is useful for 
fastenings and which is highly combustible, as it contains much 
oil; hence the proverb. The branches also are straight and light* 
and therefore handy for use as kdnrndris ( poles for carrying 

Class IIL 



166. Ahoms. 

c^t^t^ ^t^fH^ ^f^c^l c^^ '^1 c>i^ » 

Ahomar chaklang llindur bei, 
Tomar pdtalit parichho jei kard sei. 

For the Ahoms the "chaklang" and for the Hindus the " bei,'' 
Deal with me as you like, now that I am in your grip. 

These lines are meant to express the feelings of a bride after 


5^^N ( chaUang ) is the name of the Ahom marriage cere- 
mony, c^t ( hei ) is a wooden square frame set up on four posts 
and decorated, under which the bride and the bridegroom are 
given a ceremonial bath. 

Here c^^ is put for R^1, a part for the whole, by synecdoche. 
Now-a-days, nearly all marriages, even amongst the Ahoms and 
Chutids, are performed according to the Hindu custom, there 
being very few " chaklang " ceremonies. The Ahoms and Chuti- 
As are becoming rapidly Hinduised. 

167. JBhakats. 

^ ^t^^ ttc^ ^i^ ^^^ Wa I 

Kani pare ha(n)he khai bhakat dd(n)he. 
Ducks lay eggs and the Bhakats eat them. 
^oT^ ( bhakat ). — This is the name given to the disciples of 
the ffosains. 


168. BhaJcats, 

Bhakatatkai dhe(n)ki thora to d^ngar ne ? 
Is the pestle of the " dheki " of more value than a ' ' bhakat "7 

The c^"W ( thora ) is the heavy pestle fixed on the lever of 
the dheki. 

169. Marriage. 

c^f%^1 ^\f^^^ ci?t^^ 5t^^, 

Jetiya mariba dholat chdpar, 

Tetiyd labd murat kapar. 

When the drum is beaten, 

Then cover your head with a cloth. 

It means that, when a marriage is finally settled and is going to be 
celebrated by the beatiog of drums, then the girl should cover her 
head with a cloth. 

In Assam, girls before marriage do not veil themselves. It 
is only on the day of marriage and afterwards that th-e veil is 
donned, when the new life is said to begin. 


*'0' Hastiness. 

Bhukutot kal napake. 
By means of a blow the plantain does not ripen. 

^^^t'5=with one blow. 

171. BhaTcats, 

Nakat Mgil pdk ; 

Mahd bhakatar cbidra l%il, 

Meihi p^tim kak. 

An unexpected thing has happened j 

The head bhakat has been found fault with. 

Whom shall I make a medhi ? 

The saying is ironically meant. The head " bhakat " is next 
to the gosain, the most powerful person at the Sastra. He is a 
' person who is generally supposed to be above suspicion. A CJf^ is 
a person of much less importance, being only the gosain' s agent at 
a village. The medhis are entitled to receive, I believe, a small 
portion of the offerings or of the gosain's " kar" or tax, as commis- 
sion for collecting the same. These officers exist all over Assam, 
and through them the gosain and the bhakats at the Sattra keep 
touch with the people. Medhis are sometimes known by the 
title of " sajtola^ There are also ranks of medhis, e.g.^ " bor *' 
medhi (head medhi ) and raj medhi ( the chief officer of the 
gosain outside the sattra), Medhis at village feasts generally 
receive what is called Tt^ {man), which literally means honour 
or obedience. The " man,'' however, often takes a more tangible 
form in the way of a gift of an earthenware ** charu '* ( vessel) 
and a patidhdrd, i.e., a seat covered with a pati or mat, by 
the man who gives the feast. 


V^2. Bhakats {of Kamldbdri). 

Agar Kamldbariydi dhui khdi khari, 
Eti^r Kamlabaryai no dhowe bhari. 

The Kamldbdri '* hhakats " of former days used to wash * 

firewood before they cooked with it, 

The Kamldbari " bhahats " of the present day don't even wash their feet. 

This saying means that the " hhakats " of this sattra used 
to be so punctilious, that they washed firewood before cooking 
with it, for fear that it might have been defiled by the touch 
of some person. Now-a-days the *' hhakats '* do not even take 
the trouble to w^h their feet before eating, washing of not only 
the feet, but the whole body, before eating being the strict custom 
of all Hindus. 

173. Bhoh 

Kajar dhan bho(n)t giriha(n)t. 
The rent-collector is the owner of the king's wealth. 

c^st^ is the old name for rent-collector. In the days of the 
Edjds, the revenue was farmed out to '*bhots,'* who paid the Eaja 
a certain sum annually, and made as much out of the ryots as 
tbey could. 

174. Bhuiyas, 

^\ vp T^ 5T *tt^^ ^?rtf«i, 

Phatd hak chita hak pdtar tangdli, 
Bhaga hak chigd hak Bhuiya(Q)r powdli. 
Let it be torn, let it be broken, it is still a scarf of fine silk, 
Let him be young, let him be old, he is still the son of a Bhuiyd(n.) 

♦^t^ (pdt) is a fine kind of Assamese silk, obtained from the 
cocoons of Sk worm that feeds oa the mulberry tree. The best 


descriptions of this kind of silk are to be obtained in the Jorhdt 
subdivision of the Sibsagar district. 

^^^1% is either a scarf or waistcloth. These 'are often made 
of *^ pdt^* or " mezanhari " silk and are embroidered with red, or 
even very occasionally with gold thread. 

^M I— Bhmya(n)s were, as their name implies, landholders, the 
word %M being derived from ^"^ or ^f^T (land) . Bronson says 
they were *' r^jbangshi," or of the royal family. They were, in 
addition to being landholders, entitled to certain privileges granted 
them in consideration for their performing certain judicial func- 
tions ; apparently, they were attached to the chief courts of 
justice in the times of the Rdj^s, and they acted as umpires or 
arbitrators in civil suits. Robinson mentions in his "Assam" 
the "Bdro Bhuiya," or 12 Bhuiyas. With reference to this pro- 
"^erb it will be interesting to compare Christian's Bihar proverb-— 
^ Bap ke put sipahi ke gliora, 

Nau to thora thord. 

Which Christian translates—- 

*' A chip of the old block, 

like the steed of the trooper, 

If he is not up to very much, still he is above the average-** •• 

175 Bards. 

^t^ ^5?^ ^'»t^ 'ftt^, ^^tc^Htf?^ C^t ^tf^i 
Bardr gharat tarar ga(n)thi, barano thakiba kei rdti. 

In the Bard's house the walls are fastened with " tard," 

How many nights will the Bard Uve in it ? 
'^'^\{hard). — A." bard" was an inferior officer appointed by 
the Assam kings over 20 peons. The bard apparently looked after 
road-making and other public works, and used to move from 
place to place ; hence the saying " thakiba kei rati " (how many 
nights will he remain) . 

^^1 {tard) or ^^ttt^ is the wild cardamom, which elephants are 
very fond of. The walls and roofs of temporary huts are fre- 
quently made of ^^1 {tard). 


176. Brahmins. 

'^\^^r.^ JTvsc^ t^^^'J 'l^'l, 

^*tc^ T^%t.^ ^r^^l ^^11 

Bamune fagune biclihdre mar^, 
Ganake bichhdre nariya para. 

The Bralimin and the vulture look out for corpses, 

The Ganak is on the look-out from the time a person is taken ill. 

177. Brahmins. 

Bapur ba(n)h jopai marali. 

The whole of the Brahmin's bamboo clump consists of ' mdralis/ i.e., the 
whole of the bamboos in the clump are good enough for ' mdralis! (ridge 

^W is the respectful address of a man to an elderly Brahmin. 

178. Brahmins. 

Mai achhilo dhari bai, 
i Mok dnile Bamunto kai. 

"While 1 was plaiting a dh&ri (mat), 

They brought me in the guise of a Brahmin. 

The man really is not a Brahman, but has been made out to be 

one. It may be of interest to mention that the huranji of the 

late Gunabhiram Barua contains an account of a number of Sud* 

ras having been made Brahmins by the Ahom King Chukampha 

alias Khor^ Baja (1474 — 1533 Sak) in order to stop the advance 

of the victorious Silarai. The proverb may refer to the above 




179. Ma hangs. 

Dhan Mahangalai gal Ion bhdr pe'di, 
M^ti bhar anile ghar machibalai hal. 
My beloved husband has gone id Mahang, returnino; whonoe he throwing 
asi le the load of salt, has brought in a l<>ai of earth which will sjrve the 
purpose of plastering the house. 

<f^ lover ; 15^ (Mahang) is a place on the Naga Hills bound- 
ary close to Baruasali in the district of Sibsagar. Here there was 
a salt mine, and it was from that place Upper Assam used to 
receive its supply of salt. The proverb means that the man is 
such an idiot that, instead of bringing homo salt, he brought 
earth which, however, his wife utilised in plastering the house. 

180. Miris. 

fjf^"^ f^c^, fsifs^^ ^r.^ I 

Tirik kile, Mirik mile. 
A Tvife is to be managed by blows, and Miris by gool treatment. 
With reference to this Assamese recipe for managing a wife, 
compare No. 96, also the old English saying " a woman, a dog 
and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be." 

181. The Mahanta. 

Mahantar chin mahanit, buri garur chin ghd(n)hanit. 

The Mahanta is known in a field of mdh anl an old bullock in a 

A man's worth can be tested by only in the field of work for which he 
is fitt3d. 

The story runs thus. If you want to test a man whether he is 
really a mahanta or not, take him to a mdhani (or field of pulse), 
and if he can resist the temptation of eating the pulse, he is a 
real mahanta^ conversely if an old bullock cannot graze in a 
grass plot, it is deemed worthless. 


it^fR (mahani) is a field of ^'mdh,'' which is a black ** ddl " 
or pulse. The latter part of the proverb means that an old bul- 
lock, when it is past work, is turned out to graze. 

182. Mariyds. 

Mdriydk dhan kelei, Gariyak kan kelei. 

What will the Mariyd do with dhdn and what vvi 1 the Gariyd do 

with his ears ? 

The meaning la that the Mariyas live by working in brass and haye 
therefore very little to do with cultivation. The mab Gariyds (Muharamadans) 
do not pirce their ears for earrings, and therefore there is no need to them 
for ears. 

if^5l (Mariya). — The Mariyas are braziers. They are, as a 
rule, much looked down upon. They are professedly Muliam- 
madans, but are quite ignorant of the tenets of Islam really. 
Possibly, they are converts from Hinduism, which may account 
for the contempt with which they are held by Hindus, tf^in 
(Garia).~This term, as stated before, is meant to be one of oppro- 
brium, but in reality it is nothing of the sort, f f??i1 means a man 
from"Gaur" (an ancient city in Bengal). The Assamese Mu- 
hammadans say they are a relict of the Muhammadan invasion. 
In the times of the Rajas, they were much oppressed, but 
their status has much improved of late years. 

183. Ndgds, 

'^tR^C?! ^i^Tl ''t^, ^^t^ cft^i <t\\ \ 
Ndginie lard pdi, nagdi ]i\ khdi. 
The Ndgd*B wife gives birth to a child, 

the Na^fd drinks the medicine. 

^t^ (jdl) is the Hindustdni jhdlf a preparation of hot spices 
taken by women after delivery. 

^fl (Nagd) or ^\^\ (i^'aga) is a generic term, which includes a 
number of large and powerful hill tribes. 

The Ndgd drinking the medicine. — Here a reference is made 
to the custom of couvade which prevails amongst some of the 
N^gd tribes. 


184. Thieves. 

Chor por mukh kh^nihe. 
The only thing that my son, who is a thief, has is his voic9, i.e., he i» 
only good at making fair speeches. 

There are two kinds of thieves is Assam — the thief in the 
ordinary sense of the word, and the Cft^t-Tt C^t^ {chhowali chor) 
or the stealer of young women. Marriage hy capture still exists 
in Assam, indeed, amongst the lower classes ; this is by no means 
uncommon. A young man singles out a girl at the " hihu ** 
festival, who is perhaps not insensible to his attentions, and, 
when opportunity offers, elopes with her. This is called C^t^fft 
^f^ (chhowali churi), or the stealing of young women. In this 
way the bridegroom escapes the payment of money or presents to 
the girl's parents. 

186. Thieved. 

Bopai dchhil chor, eei parkiti mor. 
My father was a thief, I am of the same nature. 

cf, No. 158— ^1?:^^ c^c^ f^c^-^ c^c^ {BdpeJc jene pitek tene). 

186. Thieves. 

Joraro Jor biparit jor, 

Eti kankat^ eti chor. 
A pair, a wonderful pair ; 
One has cropped ears and the other is a thief. 

The use of f^'if^^ is here ironical, ^t^^'^l (kankatd) literalij* 
with ears that have been cut off. It was the custom in the 
times of the rdj^s to cut off the ears of thieves and other offend- 


Class IV. 


187. Betelnut. 

>\-^\^ "^tls^i, ^^^^ «rt^, 

Sarukai katiba, ghankai khdt^, 
Sei t^molar bilah cliabd. 

Cut it small and chew it often, 

Then you will enjoy the pleasure of bettluut (chewing). 

188. Dead Sea Fruit. 

Bahire rangchang bhitare kowabh^turi. 
Outside it is beautiful, but inside is kowdbhdturi. 

The "cTt^^t^ft" (Momordica Monodelpha) is a creeper 
which hears a heautiful fruit to look at but which contains 

The text of the proverh supplied the title of a farcical play- 
by Brijut Hem Chandra Barua, exposing the foibles of Society 
in Assam some time ago. 

189. JBihu. 

S^t bihur saya kani. 
An Qg^ that has survived seven Bihue. 

There are three Bihus, the Chait, Ksirtik, and Msigh Bihus. 

They are held on the last days of the months just enumerated. 

• The Chait Bihu is a very pretty festival, the Assamese women 

coming out in their best clothes and jewellery, and with sprays of 

orchid in their hair. They dance and sing under the trees of 


the forest in imitation of the Gopis of the Brinddban. No man 
is supposed to go near to them, hut this festival nevertheless 
results in many runaway matches. Cows are bathed in the 
rivers, and sometimes painted at this festival. The Kdrtik Bihu 
is a much smaller festival, and has no peculiar customs that I 
can recall. The Magh Bihu is an important feast, as it is the 
harvest-home. By the end of (Puh the middle of January) all 
the rice has been gathered in, and if the season has been a good 
one, there is much rejoicing. Large piles of wood are made, and 
at night a light is put to them, when they blaze up and make 
grand bonfires. 

The Assamese play a game with eggs at these festivals. Two 
men each take an egg and push them point to point at one 
another. The egg that breaks is beaten, and the unbroken one 
wins. This custom is referred to in the proverb above, and is 
called ^f^^^l [kanijujd]. In the old days there used to be buffalo 
fights, and even elephant fights, at the Bihu. 

190. Good advice. 

Edhit nidib^ li^t, 

Lara chhow^lik laghono nathab^, 

Dib^ gadhulite bh^t. 

Don't touch the stock (ion't lay your hand on your Bavinge) ; 
Don't keep the children fasting ; 
But give them cooked rice in the evening, 
^tf^ {rdhi) saving, stock, ^^t^i (laghon) fasting, f ^f^T (gadhuli) 

191, Busy-hodies, 

Lagani nahale jui najale, 
Tutakiy^ hale g^o(n) nabahe. 


Without kindling wood the fire won't light. 

And without a backbit, r no village can be established. 

\^'^'^] {tutakiyd) a backbiter. 

192. Childless Woman. 

Jar nfii kechuwa burdke nachhuwd. 
She who has not a baby to danlla, should make her old man dance. 

193. Cutting of the nose, 

Nijar nak kati satinir jatra bhanga kare. 

She cut off her own nose, so as to prevent her husband's second wife 

from starting on a journey. 

One wife, out of jealousy, because her husband's second vnfe is 
going out for the day, slits her own nose, so as to prevent her 
starting. The Assamese have a superstition that, if anything 
mutilated or deformed is seen when setting out on a journey, the 
journey will be unlucky. ^f«^ (satini) or ifst?r (satiyai) = 
one of the several wives of one husband. Polygamy brings many 
evils ; not the least of these evils is the jealousy that nearly 
always exists between the wives which results in continual squab- 
bles, c.f — the following translations of Eastern sayings : 

Malay — *' Tw^o wives under one roof: two tigers in one cage." 
Telegu — " Two swords cannot be contained in one scabbard." 
Afghan — "Who likes sauabbles at home, contracts two 

Tamul. — "Why fire the house of a man who has two 
wives ?" i.e-i the fire of anger and jealousy is enough. 

194. Cutting of the nose. y 

Nak katile ahiba dale pale, 
Chu'i katile ahiba kon kale ? 
If the nose is cut off, it will regain its old size by treatment, 
But if the hair is cut off, when will it come again ? 


195. Daughters. 

Katbdt katha bare, kharikdt bare kdn, 
Mdkar gharat jiwari bdre, patharat bare dhan. 
A story grows by telling, a bit of straw makes the hole in the ear larger ; 
A girl grows up best at her mother's house, paddy grows best on the pathdr. 

^ff^^-l means a grass tooth-pick, a roasting spit, or a spire of 
dry grass to which the eggs of " mugd " silkworms are attached- 
Here it is used in its first sense, the tooth-pick being used to 
make the hole, bored through the lobe of the ear, bigger. Both 
men and women wear earrings, called thwid ('^jf^^l), which are 
nearly always cylindrically-shaped bits of amber, with a gold 
knob at the end, which shows in front. As these " thurid " are 
often of considerable diameter, a large hole is required in the ear. 
The best way to widen the hole is to put in an additional bit of 
straw (^f^'^1) each time this is possible. The proverb is an answer 
to the question —Where do things thrive best ? 

196. Daughters and the value of land near the house. 

f§^ ^qtji sG^t^ s;f,^, 5]t^ ^-^m ^tC?!"^ ®tr^ I 

Tik baladha olai mdti, mak bhale jiytk jati. 

That bullock ig good which jumps np when its buttock is touched, that 
piece of land is good which is in front of a man's hous3 ; and if a 
mother is good the daughter is the same. 

i5^ means buttock, i5^ ^^^1 {tik baladha) a bullock that jumps 
up or runs when its buttock is touched. ^*Tt^ ^\^^ land in front of 
the house, i.e.y the land which receives the drainage of the house 
■which, acting as manure, renders it more fertile than other land. 
Ddk is the author of this proverb. 

197. Daughters. 

Mdkat kai jiyek kaji, dheki thora lai bats pd(n)ji, 


The daught-T is more skilful thin the mother (forcooth). 
For she rolls cotton with the pastle of the dheki. 

The proverb means that the daughter in her eagerness to 
show herself cleaverer than her mother makes a fool of herself. 
'^tf^ means a roll of raw cotton here. 

196. Daughters. 

Tai mdkar ji, mai mdkar jf, 
Tapat bhdtat che(n)eh^ karo, 
He(n)chd potok^ di ? 

You are your mother's daughter, 
And I am a daughter of a mother. 

Do you think that I can make hot cooked rice cool by pressing 

against it and squeezing it ? 

The latter half of the saying is interrogative. 

199. Dheki. 

Dhe(n)ki shal phurile khudar ki ^kal. 

There is no dearth of broken rice if one walk over the place 

where there is a " dheki." 

C^^IH a shed where the dheki is kept. 

200. An offence. 

^fi^ ^m^ ^r^fsT ^tta f 

Bapur galat barhani lagil. 
The broom has touched the Brahman's cheek. 

This is a saying applied when a man of no consequence takes 
offence at some trifling circumstances. 

?t«3^ or cw^ is a term of address for elderly Brahman and ^fift 
for younger one. 


301. Fisherman. 

Dom chahaki bal chukat patile duli, 

Uliyai pelai dile ga shungshungaiechhe buli. 

A Dom became rich, and he placed in the corner of his house 

a basket for storiog paddy, 

He then pulls the basket out, saying that he feels his body itching. 

A dom would not nsually possess a " dull " for storing 
paddy, as he earns his bread by fishing, ^i ^sr^wt^ (gd shung- 
ahungdi), literally to feel an itching in the body. The word 

is derived from ^5f=:a bristle, a beard of a grain of paddy. 

202. Guitar, 

Manathe tokari baje. 
The tokari is played when respect is paid. 

c^t^ft (tokari) is an instrument of music played with the 
fingers like the guitar. 

203. Husband. 

Etiyahe palehi gharpata pai, 

Kildbalai ahichhe kherdal lai. 

Now has come the worthy husband. 
He has come to beat me with a straw. 

This is an ironical proverb. 

204. Eusband. 

f¥ ^si f^ •t^si'^^^ ^\^ ^^fJTt I 

Ki kara ki nakam pair nam batdli. 
What to Bay and what not to say, my husband's name is " chisel." 


A woman who has always to be corrected for making 
mistakes, gives vent to her wrath by saying that her husband's 
name is " chisel," i.e.t he has a tongue as sharp as a chisel. 

205. Husband. 

\^ c^t <itc^i f^c^'l f^^rtt fn I 

Kihat karilo ki, dhan edon di, 

Pai to pdlo nito kildi si. 

What have t done to have bought a husband 

for a don of paddy, 
Who always beats m6. 

In Assam the bridegroom, as a rule, has to make presents to 
the birde's parents before marriage, so that in this proverb the 
order of things is reversed. 

206. Practical knowledge. 

Khaba janile chaulei chira, 

Bahiba janile matiyei pira, 

Buliba janile mojiyai der parar bat. 

If eaten knowingly (contentedly), common rice is " chira " 

(parched rice), 

To one who knows how to sit the ground is the stool. 
To her who knows how to walk the dining-room is 

on3 and a half prahar's journey. 

K you know how to eat, rice is as good as "chird.^* If 
you know how to sit, the ground is as good as a chair. And if you 
only know how to walk, it takes as long as a prahar and a half 
to cover the floor in your house. Slowness of gait in a woman is 
considered ladylike, as well as'graceful. 5if^5l=^t5f c^HJf^ (mdj 
kothdii), the middle room of the house, where the meals are served 
and eaten. 


207. ' Stisband. 

f^f?:^^ c^c^i c^ip c&r^, 

^t ^t^ ^:¥ 5i:n af? I 

Girijeke bole bhok bbok, 

Ghainiyeke bole pud gadhnli, 
Dai saj eke lage hok. 

The husband cries out " I am hungry,'* " I am hungry/* 
The wife replies, " Let the morning' meal and evening meal 

be taken t<^ther." 

This is a case where the wife is too thrifty and half-starres 
her husband. The Assamese has, as rule, three meals a day, i,e., 
in the early mornins^, middav, and eTenincr. In the early morning 
he eats cooked rice, either hot or cold, according to his fancy or 
his means. In the middle of the day he takes what is called 
W^tl^ (jalpdn) or lunch, which often consists of f'iij ^^f^ (pithdguri) 
or cakes made from rice flour. In the evening is the large meal 
of the day ; it consists of cooked rice, fish, or yegetables. {See 
No. 55.) 

SOB. Siishmid. 

«?t^C^ ^pT^^T ^Tf^, 

J^lake bulile jak^ 

Andh^re mudhare chiniba nowdri, 

Paiyekak bulile kakai. 

The net was mistaken for 2kjakdi^ 

And she called her husband " kakdi " (elder brother) 

in tha dark. 

^1^ {jai) is a fishing net, of which there are several kinds- 
The nets are ciade from the riha fibre, which is very 


stroi^. ^^^ {jabii) Is a scoop vith a hamlk^ wliidi is pushed 
along in tibe mod faj woman to catdi anall fidi. Hie fmiSi m 
made of splH baniboo wifli a wiide iMmboo &r m hawdliT, and b 

209. Xje-srr.el^ 

What is «oQkBil aee and £A to fie lexaei. 

! difit»% to the vLsuwd. 
v^affsamietldiig Tocy tzoaUesaaBae mud unaToidaUe. 

21a LombuO, 

cvH vw ^1^ «fl^ 5n •♦^il*S*i* ^ 

T«>rjaBam}StijiBOMiksi%ilafit ghar, 
Esir chtx^ lai dflei Uitfi niifti hr. 

I kaov yooor liEsesge; jonr ham^ is in tiw pal^T moseij^ 
If I iKfc to ay a filfle Mons, joa wadU raa ammj. 

«^m (e<air), fiteatally A ^sr, one wofd ; ^^, to ran away 

OiIImIu Oii pU^ai paiiL 
He csBw only to liave a look, Inl lie got tied op. 
Hie saying nsEos to the case of a man who has heen cairying 
on an intngnfi^ but has been found out^ 


818. Maternal uncle, 

C^^^U 1^^ ^^^ *ftC5 IT^i I 
Momdi marak, bhutak pachhe pdm. 
Let the uncle die, I will find the devil (^vs) afterwards. 
This is rather an amusing instance of " Shutting the stable- 
door after the steed has been stolen." The usual exorcism of the 
evil spirit is here dispensed with until after the man's death. 

2I3. Marriage. 

Etai bor khorochat kai, 
Biyar khorocha sakat. 
The slip-knot of marriage is the stronge&t elip-kont of all. 

214 Mother-in-law. 

m "^W %^ f^c^'l f^pf c^f% I 

Chal pai biyani nito tini beli. 

If the son's or daughter's mother-in-law gets a chance, 

she comes to the house three times a day. 

f^^^ {biyani) son's or daughter's mother-in-law, the father- 
in-law is called f^^5 {biyai). 

215. Mother-in-law. 

Shahu bowarir ghar, 

Kone khai gakhirar sar ? > 

The mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law 

are the only members of the house. 

Who else is going to drink the cream ? 

^^ (sar)=5t^ (chdmani), cream. 


216. Oil. 

Eanat pari kaliya halo, 

Tel ndikiyat phapariyc'i halo. 
I have become black through having fallen (woundel) in battle, 
And I have become scurfy through having no oil, 

A coolie whose skin has been tanned through exposure to 
the sun, says he has become black owing to being wounded on the 
field of battle. Having no oil to rub on the body is given as an 
excuse for his skin being scurfy. The Assamese rub their hair 
and body with mustard oil. 

217. Old man. 

Dekhichhahe burd agni kura. 
He looks an old man, but in reality he is a flame of fire. 
Though he looks old, he has not lost his spirit and energy. 

^R^^1 (agnikurc4)=^t^^1 (jui kurd), a torch. ^f?f (agni) 
=ignis {Doioson). To quote further from the same authority — 
** Eire is one of the most ancient and most sacred objects of Hindu 
worship. Agni is one of the chief deities of the Vedas. He is 

one of the three great deities — Agni, Vdyu (Indra), and Surya 

who, respectively, preside over earth, air, and sky." — (Dowson.) 

218. Fohdri. 

Poharir paiekai sakhi. 
The Pohari's witness is her husband. 
The only witness a pohdri can cite is her own husband to 
corroborate her false statement regarding the value of her stock 
m trade. Nobody else will support her in her false statement 
except her husband. 

CltW^ (pohdri) are petty traders. 


219. Sorters. 

Bharik nerc bhare, jubayak nere pachalar kh^re. 

The burden does not leave the porter's back. 

And pachald khdr curry does not leave the slovenly man. 

The above means that a porter cannot earn his livelihood 
without carrying loads, and a sloven can only get pachala khdr 
(a bad kind of curry) to eat. 

'is^l— the sprout of the plantain tree from which curry is 

220. Meligion. 

Dbarmar jai adbarmar khay. 
The victory of religion is the decline of wickedness. 
^"i (dharma) is moral and religious duty. Dharma was an 
ancient sage, sometimes classed among the prajapatis, the fathers 
of the human race, who were produced by Manu. Dharma 
married thirteen (or ten) of the daughters of Dakhsa, and had a 
numerous progeny, but all his children " are manifestly allegori- 
cal, being personifications of intelligences and virtues and religi- 
ous rites, and being, therefore, appropriately wedded to the proba- 
ble authors of the Hindu Code of religion and morals, or the 
equally allegorical representation of that code, Dharma." — 
(Wilson) cf. *''ft<«t«^'^ ^i:^tsf5s i " 


221. Step-mother. 

Ki kom mdhi air gun, 
Ehate kharani ehi^te Ion ! 

What shall I say o£ my tt^p-niother's kindness, 

In one hand she has solution of potash and in the othor salt f 


In former days salt was a luxary, and ** kharani '* is much 
appreciated as a relish to eat with boiled rice. 
^t#=-a solution of potash. 
This proverb is ironical. 

222. Step-son. 

«Jtr^ ^\\ ^\^ ^W 5ir{5c^2c»ti I 

Mor po nahoy satinir po, 
Dhari nai pati nai matite 6bo. 

You are not ray son, but a son of my fellow wife, 

I have no *' dhdri " (rag) and no **pdU " (mat) for you, 

you must sleep on the ground. 

223. Stolen cattle, 

afc^ fiT^I ^?p^ ^V^ ^tc^ f t^ I 

Chore nija garur bate bate gha(n)h. ' 

The stolen bullock finds grass along the road. 
All roads in Assam have grass growing on the sides upon 
which the cattle graze as they go along. 

224. Teacher. 

^GC^ ^ff^ ^1^1 ^\^ c^^ ^ ^tf^ I 

Kelehua oja chapanija pali, 

Ore rati ndm gay kher jui jali. 

You uninvited teacher I you have found another 

uninvited one (chapaniya). 

And have lit a fire and have sung hymnj all night. 
Oja is also an exorcist, c^c^^^ ^^ft^t {kelehua and chapa- 
niya) are contemptuous terms applied to one who wishes to asso- 
ciate with others without being asked. The term '* chapaniya " is 
usually applied to a bachelor lining at the house of a man who 
has daughters, on the understanding that ho is to get one of the 
latter in marriage. 


225. Urbashi. 

^C"^^ ^^^ ^5tC?I ^'J I 

Ekei Urbashi duwdre path. 

She is an Urbashi and at the same time there is a path (straight) 

up to her door. 

Urbashi, or Urvasi, was one of the Apsaras, the nymphs 
of Indra's heaven. The name " which signifies moving in the 
water, has some analogy to that of Aphrodite." — (Dowson.) The 
Bamayana and the Purdnas attribute the origin of these nymphs 
to the churning of the ocean. 

There is a love story told in the Mahabharata, which need 
not be reproduced here, concerning Urbashi and Puru-ravas, a 
mythical person, mentioned in the Vedas, connected with the sun 
and the dawn, and existing in the middle region of the universe. 
This story Maxmiiller considers " one of the myths of the Vedas 
which expresses the correlation of the dawn and the sun. The 
love between the mortal and the immortal, and the identity of 
the morning dawn and the evening twilight, is the story of 
Urvasi and Puru-ravas." The word " Urvasi," Maxmiiller says, 
"was originally an appellation and meant dawn." Dowson writes 
— *' Dr. Goldstiicker's explanation differs, but seems more apposite. 
According to this Puru-ravas is the sun and Urvasi is the 
morning mist ; when Puru-ravas is visible, Urvasi vanishes, as 

the mist is absorbed when the sun shines forth." 

226. Village conversation, 

Pi^ ^ii^l ^^1 I 

Dhekiyd latd patd, 
Bh^t khaote pani khai, 
Sio eta katha. 


Bits of fern, creepers, and leaves, 
He drinks water whilst eating rice, 
Are these the Bubjects of conversation ? 

This is a description of village talk, ^r^l ^^1 = odds and 


227. Water Sprite, 

Khal kh^ni jasinl ehapai lale. 
By digging a drain (near your house) 

you have brought tie evil spirit closer. 

The jashini is one of the du minorea of the Assamese. 
Although the " jasini " is supposed to be evilly disposed, 
apparently it does not require to he propitiated by offerings. 
The " jasini *' presides over tanks and drains. Stories are told 
by the villagers of men who had been pulled down into the depths 
of deep pools by " jasinis," and so drowned whilst bathing. 

228. Water Sprite. 

Thalat thai Rajd pota pukhurir ba{n)kei Rajd. 
A king reigns on land, in hali-filled-up tanks reigns the water sprite. 
'y^ (^A«0==Sanskrit 5^ (sthal), land, place. c^t^1 n$^^ (potd 
puJchuri)^ literally buried tank. What is meant generally by the 
expression, however, is a tank in process of being filled up. ^-^ 
[ba(n)k] is an evil spirit said to haunt swamps and marshes. 
1heba{n)k, like the 'Will-o'-the-wisp,' leads people astray at 

229. Widower. 

Jo(n)r puri baralar hat pdle hi. 
The torch burnt down to the hand of the widower that held it. 


Mr. Abdul Majid notes on this — " When a man loses his 
wife and becomes a widower (barald), he is so immersed in grief 
that, when he lights a torch, he lets it burn his hand in his 
absence of mind." 

230. Widower. 

Than than Madan Gopal, eketd baral'ir nakhan chotdl. 
He is alone by himself a " Ma Ian Gopal '^ (a widower), 

he possesses nine courtyards (and houses to correspond). 

^^■^ c^t^t^ (Madan Gopal) is either a bachelor or a widower. 
^ff^ (Madan) is one of the names of "^t^ (Kama), the Indian 

(Gopdl), cowkeeper, a name of the youthful Krishna whilst 
living amongst the cowherds in Brindaban. 

231. Widower. 

1^5^ "^t^^f^ ^^tl^ ^t«l, 

Parbatat kachhakani bhayamat ban, 
Baraldt bieharichhe shukan dhan. 

To look for turtle's eggs in the hills, to put up a weir 
(across a stream) in the plains, 
Are as difficult things to do as to obtain dry paddy at a 

widower's house. 

In the proverb just above, we have some of the advantages 
of widowerhood. In this proverb we have one of the disadvan- 
tages. ^1 (ban) is a weir thrown across a stream to prevent the 
fish finding their way out to the Brahmaputra. Such weirs are 
difficult to put up, and still more difficult to keep in place, as the 
streams are liable to rise suddenly and wash them away. Turtle's 
eggs are found on the sandhills alongside rivers. They are 
difficult to find unless the turtle is seen making its way off from 
the place where the eggs have been deposited. 


232. Wives : The contrary i^ife. 

Khojo kharani diye Ion, 
Ene ubhatit thakiba kon. 

I ask for a solution of potash and she gives me salfc, 
"Who can stand a wife who is so contrary ? 

233. 2Jhe wife who is a hasty cook. 

^? ^t^fsr ^^ ^t^ft ^^c^f^ ^c^tw ^, 

Khar randhani khar barani paiok laghone jai, 
Oda randhani oda barani paieke lini saji khdi. 

She is a smart cook and a smart distributor, yet her 

husband goes fasting. 

The other is a slow cook and a slow distributor, yet her 

husband gets three meals a day. 

A hasty cook often spoils what she is cooking. A cook who 
takes time and trouble, prepares a satisfactory meal. 

^t?^=is one who serves the food, a distributor. 
^?= quick, ; «^1 =slow. 

234. The wife supreme in her own house. 

^t^ ^f^ bift "iM^ ^f% 5ipiff I 

Ghare pali ghaini khale pati jasini. 
In the home the wife is supreme, in the ditch reigns the water sprite. 

235. A wife who, though well-meaning , is without tact, 

^f^^ f^T^^ ^^C^"^^ i^^ I 
Tini Godhulit tariche tat, 
Ujutit chingile paiekar da(n)t. 


She spread her loom at dusk, 

And in her hurry she broke her husband's tooth by 

tripping up against bim. 

^t^ (tdfc) is the wooden hand-loom used by Assamese women 
for weaving cotton or silk. 

236. Helplessness. 

Par kar jubayii gay natbaware. 
Cross me over (the stream), young man, it is out of my depth. 

237. The spoilt wife. 

C^ttC^ ^tr«?C^ ¥^^1, ^v5^t« ^t^^fV ^^^1, 

Betiye bhanglle katara, Gargaon pdlehi batard, 
Ghainiye bhdngile ka(n) hi, thale muchukai ha(n)hi. 

The maid servant broke the stand of the dheki, and the news 

spread to Gargdon, 

The wife broke a brass plate, and the result was only a smile 

(from her husband). 

^^^1 (katara) a stand on which the dheki works. "^^^T^ 

(Gargaon) near Nazira was at one time the capital of the Ahom 


238. , Inequalities. 

Barar ddi pichhali jai, 
Sarur dai khuchhari khai. 

The mistake of the great ono passas without notice. 

Whereas that of the small one is never overlooked. 


239. > The stingy wife. 

Bidhatay dileo tirutdi nidiye. 
Although Bidhata gave, the wife does not 
f^^'^\ (Bidhatd) is Bralima, the creator. 

840. The wife always beautiful. 

JitSf ^^^ ^t^ ^, ^^CI^ >(tC^ ^^It #T I 

Maj murat ndi chuli, paiyek mdte rupahi buli. 

She has no hair on the middle of her head, but her husband 

calls her ** rujpa1\4, " (the beautiful one). 

241. A paragon of a wife. 

Sarba sulakhyani tai, patito mute charuto khai. 
A paragon of a wife, she spoils the bed and eats from th3 cooking pot. 
The proverb is of course ironical. 

242. Women. 

Tirir chuti baranir buti. • 

Women that are short in stature and brooms that are worn out 

are to be avoided. 

The Assamese think a great deal of a tall woman. 

243. Women. 

f^ft, f^f^, ^CBh, (M-%\, 
^ f^f^ utf^^ ^t^l (J{\ c^t^1 I 
Tiri, Miri, bhato, kowa, 
Ei tini charir asai no powa. 

^ Of women, Miris, the parrot, and the crow, 

The minds of these four you cannot know. 


^— I—— ^^^"^ — '^^^^-^— ■■■■■II. I ...I „ ii.i. ^»^^— I . —^■.■■■i I II IIP* 

244. -^gony of Death. 

*^^ f^f*' Ftf^ ^51^ 'It^^l I 

Thuparir pai^ maje phutd chai, kati khui katan^, 

Ei tinl cliari jamar jatand. 

To be the husband of a worthless woman, a boat covering 

with a hole in the middle of it, and to live by spinning and 

weaving for wages, 
These three are tho agony of death. 

cf. the Hindi proverb — 

• Jhar jhar juri urukha ghar, 

Nari ehanchal chor nakar, 

B^p satru satman pai, 

EM pancha bap sahan najai. 
A water pot with a hole in it, a leaky house, an unsteady 
wife, a thief servant, a father an enemy, these five are unen- 

In Assam, the bullock carts and boats are covered with hoods 
made of matting, with bamboo hoops to support it. Any one 
who has travelled in a bullock cart or in a boat with a hole in 
its hood on a wet night in the rains, will endorse the truth of 
this saying. ^^^1 (katana)='''c^5^^ c^t^^ =5:^1 ^^ ^ ^tt^ aHl 
l!^^ i" — (JBronson.) "(J3echaloi lokar shutd hatd bd kdpar bowd 
mdnush)." One who spins or weaves for others for hire. ^^ 
(jam) is the Indian Pluto. 

Class V. 


2^g. The brinjal out of season. 

^t^ftlfl C=^C5f5?f| csit^ c^t^ c^t^ c^t^ ■^'^ I 
Abatariya bengenai mok tol mok tol kare. 

The eo-g plant that is out of season, cries out 

'* pluck me," " pluck me.^' 

This saying is expressive of contempt towards men who are 
too pushing. 


146. The " hagari " plum. 

^g^ ^ft^ ^^f^ nft^^ I 
Ulur lagat bagari purile. 
The plum tree is burnt with the ulu grass. 

In " ulu '* grass jungle the '* hagariy^ or wild plum, is 
frequently found. 

247. *'Dhdn'' and "pan." 

Ek Ahine dhdn, 
Tiai Shaone p^n. 
In one Ahin dhan, 
In three Shaons pdn. 

The transplanted rice begins to come into ear in Ahin, about 
15th September to 15th October. The paddy is not ripe, 
however, till well on in December or beginning of January, The 
pan, however, takes two years to mature. 

This is one of Dak's sayings. 

S48. "Paw." 

^S^l"^ 5t^5^ *ltJT f^t pF ^?l ^U I 
Eke gachhar pan si ki haba in. 
It is " p^n " from the same tree, how will it be different. 

The saying means he is a *' chip of the old block,'' how will 
he differ from his father ? 

249. Paddt/. 

Kumaliya bharl; dhun sunge bindhile phure atdH pdri. 



If the man -who treads out the paddy has soft feet, the sharp beard of the 

ear pierces his foot and he jumps with pain. 

The paddy is generally trodden out by oxen, but sometimes 
by men and women as well. If a person has soft feet, i.e., if a 
man is not accustomed to such work, the sharp beard of the 
paddy runs into his foot. 

250- Paddy seedlings. 

Kathiya he chuti Jethate par^. 
The paddy seedlings are small, but they were sown in Jeth. 

The seedlings referred to are those which are required for 
transplanting to the " rtia '* or paddy-field. The month Jeth 
corresponds to 15th May to 15th June, which is about the time 
when the ** kathiya-tali " (seedling beds) are prepared and the 
seed sown. 

251. Ploughs, 

^^f^ ^m >its ^t^ ^fe 

Gadhuli hale sat hal bdi, 
Pua hale e halo nai. 

In the evening he arranges for seven ploughs, 
But in the morning he has not one even. 

The meaning is that one who talks much performs little. 
It is applied to a lazy fellow who contemplates doing everything 
in the morning, but actually does nothing when the time comes. 
The Assamese never ploughs in the evening, at least not unless 
he can possibly help it. A. ploughman's day is generally from 
dawn till about 11 or 12 o'clock. After that he lets his bullocks 
loose, and does no more that day. 


252. Hadish. 

Ji mula b^riba dupatate chin. 

The radish that will grow large, you will know when it has 

spread but two leaves. 

253. Jack fruit. 

«(t^ lf^^l ^^ ^t^^ "^w."^ ^\^^ I 

Dhan puriya kathal patar talate lukal. 

The biggest jack fruit of all, i.e.j that one worth a purd of dhan, 

lay hidden underneath the leaves. 

This proverb is applied to those who hide their light under a 

254- Ndhar. 

Naharat kaio sakathi ? 
Is there any better wood than Nahar ? 
^\^ (Nahar) the iron wood of India {Mesua ferrea). 

255. Chait, 

*ttc«T r^ 5'^ ^^ ^'5r -^^ I 

Pale hi Chat dhan bam kat. 

The month of Chait has arrived, where shall I sow the paddy ? 

Here F^=^5if (Chaitra). The month of Chat or Chaitra is 
from about the 15fch March to the 15th April, or about a full 
month before the commencement of the ploughing season. The 
sowing of ahu dhan commences from MdgJi. The man who has 
spent his time in doing nothing when it is too late thus 


256. Mangoes, 

Paka amar belika kihar kuja rnoh^. 

At the time of eating ripe mangoes who cares for the infirm 


The time for mangoes to ripen is about June; but as 
mangoes are always full of worms in Assam, it is difficult to 
understand the enthusiastic tone of the proverb. 

257. '*Mdh,'' 

Phdl katotei mahar batar gal. 

"Whilst he was cutting the plough-share, 

the time for mah-sowing passed away. 

*' Md,h *' is pulse much eaten by the Assamese. Mdh is sown 
at the end of the rains and is reaped in the cold weather. 
The ^t^ {'phdl) is the plough-share. 

258. Seluk» 

^ <^ c*t^ (.^ ? 
Bure pati sheluk ne ? 
Do you find a '* seluk " each time you dive ? 
The ^* seluk " is the edible root of c^^ {bhet), a kind of lotus, 
which grows in bils* The c»^ {bhet) is something similar to 
the " singhdra,'* the Assamese f*twf^ (shingari). 

j^9. The Bor tree. 

^ ^^ -^tfsc^ f^i^^t "^V^i^t 


Bar gaclih katile ghifcingai karile, 
Chitiki parile ethd. 
Lokak dekhuwai keterai matiba, 
Bhitari neriba betba. 
"When the " lor " tree was cut down, it fell with a crash. 
And its juice poured out like rain. 
Before people speak to him sharply, 
In private you should make much of him. 
The first part of the proverb is irrelevant to the second, 
which, as being a piece of advice to some one, should more 
properly have been detailed in Class II. f^f^^l^ (^^i^*w^a«)=an 
onomatopoeic word, signifying any sudden sound, as a clap of 
thunder — {Bronson), 1%f^f^ (f^l^f^) " c7^^7^A:i," literally, driving 
in like heavy rain through an open window. ^^ ^ (Bar gachh) 
=^^, the Indian fig {Ficus indica). These trees grow to an 
enormous size in Assam, notably the " Teseng Bor gachh " near 
Difflu in Golaffhat. 


260. The kereld. 

Bare hat kerelar tere hat guti. 
The hereld is 12 cubits long, but the seeds are thirteen I 

The " kereld " is the " Momordica carantiat' a well-known 
vegetable. (Bengali "^^^1; karald.) The saying is applied to 
a man who draws the long bow. 

261. On buying land. 

mi? f%f^?l Tt^ ^H 

Mati kiniba maj khal, 
Chhowali anib^ mdk bhal. 

Buy land which slopes towards the centre, 
And marry a girl whose mother is good. 

c/. — " Take a vine of a good soil and a daughter of a good 
mother." This is borrowed from Dak. 


262. Taddy cultivation, 

«r^tt ^Hc^ c^t^t^ 5t^i cTff^ c^c5T ^^ I 

Garu chaba gadhuli rowd chaba puwd, 
Jakai baote chhowali chaba dekhi kene kuwd. 

Look for your bullocks in the evening, 

look at your paddy-field in the morning, 

Have a peep at the girl who is fishing with the *'jaMi," 

and see what she is like* 

The Assamese lets his bullocks roam about after midday* 

when he has finished ploughing. In the evening he ties them 

up so as to be ready to commence ploughing as soon as it is light. 

The second part of the proverb is irrelevant, although amusing. 

Ddk is the author of this proverb. 

263. f^^t^"?^^ c^^1 c^t^^ ^^ I 

Sichatkai chhera botala tan. 

It is easy to catch fish by ladling up water than to collect fish that 

have been left behind < 

264. A fence. 

Nita chdone tdti. 
A fence always requires looking after. 

The Assamese fence in their "roi^«V' the paddy-fields, after 
the ^^kathiyd" (seedlings) has been transplanted ; the fences are 
made of split bamboo, and are constantly either being stolen and 
used for firewood, or broken down by stray cattle. The author 
of this proverb is Dak. 

265. Fepper^ pan, and plantains, 

^^ *lft ¥^1 f^^l^ "^f^ I 

Jdlukat gobar panat mati, 
Kald puU rubd tinibar kdti 


Place manure round the black pepper bush 

and earth rftund the pan tree, 

And cut the plantain threo times before you plant it* 

The above proverb gives useful hints as to the cultivation 
of black chillies, pdu, and plantains. This is another of DAk's 

266. On cultivating mli dhdn, 

^51 ^5? \-^ fn\ ^tf%, 

Ghan ghan kai dib^ dli, 
Parbatar tingato rubd s^li ; 
Teo jadi nahai sali, 
Tehe pariba Dakak gali. 

if you make the * dlis ' as near to one another as prsjible, 
You can plant " sdli " on the tops of hills. 
If then the " sdli " does not grow well, 
You can abuse Dak» 

Alls ("sftf^T) are the divisions in the field built for the purpose 
of damming in the water. Dak was the originator of this 

267» Tamarind and " Owteirga.^* 

c^^ ^^^ ^\%^ ^^m^ c^ I 

Ag phale teteli pach phalo au> 
Sei gbarar manuh uthilan3 no* 
A houfla with a tamarind tree in front and an " oictengd " behindj 
Has not the owner of that house gone away from here yet ? 

c^"\ (ad)=^^ C5tl1 " nai kowa,'' not yet. 
Another of Dak's sayings. 



268. Sesamum. 

Muhar mar dekhi tile bet melib. 

Seeing the •'* mdk " beaten out, the Sv.samum has split itself (for fear 

of being beaten). 

f^9i (til) = sesamum orientale. The proverb is meant as a hit 
at people who are too officious. 

269. The best crops. 

Bhah chikun parar, po chikun gh rar. 

The best crops are those growing on the fields of others, 

the beat sons are those at home. 

The above means that people are never satisfied with their 
own crops, but are envious of those of others. 

Class VI. 


270. The paddy-hird and the fish, 

^R^ 5jf5^ ^5lfiT ^JTI I 

AJhik machhat bagaU kand. 
When fith are too plentiful, the paddy-bird is blind. 
i.e.y the fish are so thick, that he does not know which to 
catch first, and so, perhaps, all escape him, hence the saying that 
he is blind. 

Adhik mdchat jogi ad baol. 

When fish are too plentiful, a mendicant {lit. hermit) 

becomes halt-mad. 


c^t'?t, literally one who carries out the tenets of yoga philo- 
sophy, one who cultivates the faculty of attention. Yoga mean- 
ing application. Hence the term yogi or jogi is applied to one 
who gives up the world —a hermit. 

^t^^ (ba61) seems to be connected with ^t%^1 (baliyd), the 
word ^t^^ (ba61i) often bemg used as the feminine of ^1%?^ 

271. The jackal. 

Aehu kathat pari siyalto rauga hal. 
Ttie jackal has got coloured red b/ falling into the dye-pot. 

The abve means that the jackal only by accident looked a 

better colour. Hence the proverb is applied to upstarts, who 
Qwe their position to some lucky accident. 

^"t^^t^ (c. zanthorrhizon) the tree, the root of which produces 

a yellow dye and which is used for dying cloth or thread. 

272. The elephant. 

Achale pichhale hatiro pao pichbale. 
In a bad place the foot of the elephant even slips. 
The proverb is too well known to need comment. 

273' The mosquito. 

Atbuwa talar mah mohariley mare. 

The mosquito under the mosquito curtain is killed by b'inor 

squeezed (this being the usual way o£ destroying this pest). 

The proverb applies to the case of a person who is under the 

thumb of another, and who can be ruined by the latter at any 




274* The mosquito. 

^^^^ ^tc^, ^itr^T^ ^f^^ I 

Shu(n)r achhe Mti nahay manuh garu khai, 
Bdgh ntthay jake pai take khai, 
Haralak gliate, panir janmit. 

It has a trunk, but it is not an elephant, 

It eats men and cattle, but it is not a tiger ^ 
Whatever it eats, it eats on the spot. 
It vanishes with a blast of music, it is bora from water. 

It is not difficult to guess the answer to this simple Assamese 

275. The dove and the hawk. 

^f^ 5f^ ?Fi^?l1 "^nl CC^ f^C^I C3fCJT, 

Uii gal katiya kapo khedi nile sene. 
Eke kathi karere sat thait bhedile, 
lyo katha haichhe tene. 

The little dove has flown away being chased by a hawk, 

He has pierced it (the latter) in seven places with one arrow only ; 

This story also is like that. 

The above is meant to illustrate the case of a person who tells 
a story which prima facie appears to be false. 

876- The mouse. 

^\ i^^r^^ >it^ ^t^T it^ I 

Eta niganir sat khdn pdm. 
One mouse has seven *' pdms.'* 

The word ^t^i (pom) means a farm, or more commonly a piece 
of outlying cultivation, which is often situated in the forest or 
in the midst of thick grass jungle. These pams are liable to 


the ravages of all sorts of animals, and have to be carefully 
watched. The proverb means that, although he is a small man, 
he has many things to do. 

277. The snake. 

^^t^ ^\cn n\m C5?^c^l ^?r i 

Ebar sdpe khale lejuto bhny. 

A man who has once bceu bitten by a snake, is arraid of every 

piece of rope. 
" Once bitten twice shy.'* 

Also cf. a Bihar proverb given by Christian : 

Dudhke dehal matha fhuk pihi {n). 
One scalded by (hot) milk, drinks (cold) buttermilk 

even after blowing into it. 

278. The *' Futhi, " " KhaWiond;' « Bb;' and " JBardW fishes. 

Ocharar puthi, khalihana, nilagar, ro, barali. 

Near us we have the " puthi " and " khalihana " 

The " ro, " and barali ' are far away. 

The meaning is that it is better to catch the puthi and khali- 
hana which are small fish near at hand than to think about the 
rb and the hordli (large and well flavoured fish) which are far 

The proverb is meant to illustrate the saying— "A bird in the 
hand is worth two in the bush." 

279. The duck. 

Kina ha(n)har tho(n)tIaike raangah. 
The duck that has been bought, has flesh on it right up to the beak. 


This means that in the buyer's estimation, such a duck has. 
As a matter of fact, the duck that is bought in the market, is 
often lean and skinny. 

280. The tiger and the deer. 

Kalaro kal biparit kal, 
Hariaai cheleke baghar gal. 

What a time 1 What a time for the opposite to happen ! 
Th3 deer is licking the tiger's cheek. 

281. The tiger and the torn cat, 

^'i ^\\'i. ^\^ ^XT^m 'sitfir ^t^^q at^1 I 

Bagh chaba nelage bondake chow^, 
Bhal manuh chaba lagile ali batalai jowa. 
You need not see a tiger, see a tom cat. 
If you want to see gentlemen go to the road. 

This is perhaps a cynical proverb. It means that a tom cat is 
quite enough to frighten you, who are talking about experiences 
with tigers. The allusion to ^t^ s^X^v^ {bhdl mdnuh) being seen on 
the road, is ironical. 

282. The tiger. 

vf^ 5rrf^ ^ffi^ f^c^f 1 ^'s\^ I 

Bhdl khatilo bagbak, 
Pahu mari ani dilo(n) agat. 

1 have served the tiger well. 

By killing a deer and placing it in front of it. 

" BHADAI " — THE DOG. 95 

Tigers will sometimes eat animals that they have not killed 
themselves, but this is not usual. '5^^=Beng. t« I t^ is the 
common word for a deer in Assamese, not an animal as in 

283. " BhadaL " 

^n^1 C^T^tt ^th"^ "^K^, 

Kako nepai Bbadaik pale, 
Muchari saraari khalait thale. 

Having found no one better he got " hhddai" 
And squeezed her into the fish basket. 

Bhadai~is a common name amongst girls in Assam. Here 
it means a small inferior fish. 

284. " KarshaUy 

Khai kdrsala dalat uthil, 
Kathi ch.lekar maran milil. 

The kdrsald having eaten something (on the trunk) 

climbed up into the branches, 
The animal that licked the Mthi met its death. 

Tha *• kdrshald *' is a small snake. 

■^^ is a small piece of bamboo used in making wicker work. 
In Kamrup ^i^ means verandah. 

The meaning of the proverb is that the innocent is punished 
instead of the guilty. 

285. The dog. 

Khud maganiar kukur shatru. 
The dog is even the enemy of the poor beggar. 

t^ is properly rice refuse. 


286. The miL 

Guri paruwar alap barashunoi ban, 
Sold mukhar e charei tdn. 

To the ant a few rain drops is a flood, 

To the toothliSi mouth one slap even is hard to bear. 

^f? 't^^l {guri pat'uwd) is a species of tiny ant. In the 
original Assamese, for '^^t ^^^c^^ {alap harashunei) read ^^f^Cv^ I 

287. Tl e weaver bird. 

Charai he saru kintu lay holong gachbat bdh. 

The bird indeed is a small one, but it builds its nast in the lofty holong. 

The bird referred to is the little weaver bird, which builds 
its hanging nest on the highest branches of tall trees. The 
" holong " {D. pilosus) is a fine tree, and grows with a long 
straight stem to a considerable height. The '* holong " supplies 
many of the tea boxes of Assam. 

288. The '' chitaV' 

Dekhotei chital pithita ka(n)it. 
Obviously, a *' cAifal " fish ; it has thorns on its back. 
The " chital fish " is very bony. Only the lower portion 
which is called c'^t^tl is fit to eat. The back or upper portion 
which is full of bones is called Wl i 

289- ^^^ monhey, 

Bayasat bandaro sondar. 
The monk(^y even looks beautiful when it is f ull-growa. 

(Tif^ is corrupted form of ^^ (beautiful). 


290. The squirrel. 

"^X^X^ T^in wtc^1 ^^c^ Ttt ? 

Barir tamol kerketuwai khai, 
Amak dile jano athale j^i f 

The squirrel is eatinw the betelnut in the garden, 

Will it ba thrown away if given to us ? 

If the betelnut was given to us it would not have been lost, but 
now it is eaten by a squirrel. 

291. The '' chengeli" 

Burar hatat cbengeli. 
In the hand of the old man is the " chengeli." 
The " c/i^w^r^Zi " is a kind of small fish found in bils. The 
skin of the " chengali " fish is very slippery. It is very difficult 
to catch it, and if once caught it slips out of the hand, but when 
it is caught by an old man it cannot escape, because the hands of 
an old man are rough. 

292. Horses. 

Bhal bhal ghorai na pai gha(n)h, 

Batuwa ghorai bichhare mdh. 
Whilst good horses are not getting grass. 
The inferior ones are looking for mah (pulse). 

T^^1 {haUmd) is a term which is applied to horses usually. 
An inferior country "tat" is often called a hatuwd ghord. 
" Mdh, " the pulse of the country, which is often used for feeding 


293. The '' laldUr 

Mahar sin gat ka(n)kild da(n)r { 
On the horn of the buffalo is the snout of the " kakila " fish ! 

The "kakila" (esox caucila) is a long thin fish with a 
snout, which makes it look very peculiar. 

294. The game cock. 

Ranar kukura ranate mare. 
A game-cock diss in battle. 

The practice of cock-fighting'prevails all over Assam amongst 
those who keep fowls. The tea-garden coolies are very fond of 
it, and often bring cocks with them from long distances for the 

295. Mephants and horses. 

W["^ fsf^^l ^t*'^, 
^t^^ |%f^^1 ^\^^, 
c^t^t^ fef^^l Mws I 

Rajak chiniba ddnat, 

Hatik cbinib^ thanat, 

Ghoruk chiniba kanat. 
You will bo able to rjcognise a king by his liberalify. 
An elephant wh n it is in the '^ than, '* 
And a horse by its ears. 

^N=Tr^ is the place where elephants are kept at night ; it is 
also called ^^1 by Assamese. 


396. The house sparrow. 

^tW ^V^"^ ^f% «(C^tC3, • 

Baj hatigsir gati dharote, 

Ghanchiri kdro khoj pahaiile. 

The houS3 sparrow in trying to imitate the gait of the goose, 
Forgot its own. 

897. The tadpole. 

Ldlukilai ki tapat pani lagiehhe. 
Why does a tadpole require warm water ? 
cf, — Christian's Bihar proverb :— 
'* Me(n)rhak ko bhi zokam, 
Ya bengo ke sardi/* 
A frog with a cold or cough I 

298. The ** sal " and the *' singV' 

Sdlak shingiye ha(n)he, 
Tayo ekaji mayo ekdji, 
Bhdleto garaki nahe. 

The "sal '• (fish) is laughing at the " ningU " ( fish ), 
You are as worthless as I am, 
Therefore there comes no suitor for either of us. 
ifl"?t#t or ''it?t'ft-~a girl who is ignorant of the art of weaving 
and spinning. 



Both adl and singi fish are unclean to Hindus. This proverb 
is an instance of the " pot calling the kettle black," also, cf., 
proverb No. 60. 

S99. Tigers and snakes. 

^\:^ ^t^ ^''•^ ^tt ^R 1^^ wc^T, 

Sape khdi baghe kMi jadi mare jale, 
Jdr ji haba lage nij karraar phale. 
"Whatever happens to any man, whether he is bitten by a snake 

or devoured by a tiger or drowned, is the result of bis own action- 

SCO. Dogs. 

Kukurak nidiba thai, lara chhowalik nidib^ Idi. 
Don't give a dog a place and do not give indulgence to children. 
The dog being an unclean animal, must not be allowed any- 
where where there is a possibility of its defiling any of the cook- 
ing or eating or drinking vessels. 

801. Dogs. 

Kukure jane ki tain tulsi ? 
What docs a dog know of the value of copper vessels or of the *' tulsi '^ ? 
When a Hindu worships his god, he dedicates to him leaves of 

*Unhi^* in a copper vessel. The "tnlsi " is the *' Ocymum sanC' 
turn,''* or holy basil. 

cf. — Bihar proverb : " Can a monkey appreciate ginger " ? 
also Tclegu proverb : *' What can a pig do with a rose bottle" ? 


Class VII, 



Jai kdlat bhai ndi, 
Mrityu kdlat osadh nai. 

Daring a time of prosperity there is no fear, ( but ) at the 

time of death there is no medicine. 
^g Tt^^ — Jdi kdlat, literally at the time of victory. 


'sitiltc^ j^tsr^i ^t^c^ t^=T, 
w\^ ^t^ ^t^ '5it¥ 'a;^^ 1 

Aho(n)te nangatu jaote shuin, 

Lagat jdba pap aru puin. 
We arrive ( in this world ) naked and we leave it empty, 
Our vice or virtue accompany us. 

1^5^ is a corruption of t^T, zero. ^^^ is a corruption of ^h 


C^t^^ »f^, ^1^ *t^ I 
Dosat danda, gunat pnja. 
Punishment for an offence, reward for merit. 

805. Diversity of opinions. 

5ft^ t|lf^^ ^U^ 1^ I 

Nana Rishir ndna mat. 
Different rishis have different opinions, 

■ c.^., Manu is contradicted by Parasar and Parasar by Jajna- 
yalka, and so on. Quot homines tot senteniios. 


306. Advantage of self -help. 

Sd(n)tar 8d(n)tar bausir bale, 
Sa(n)tariba nej^na j^ rassitale. 
Swim, swim with the help of your (own ) aims, 
If you can^t swim go to Rasatal. 

^t^^ literally the upper portion of the arm. ^a^i is, accord- 
ing to the Padma Purdna, the sixth hell where the Daityas and 
Pdnavas dwell. 

807. Disability of weakness. 

Khorar khoje pati aparadh. 
A lame man commits an offence at every step. 

308' Incapacity. 

Shamuke ki jane manikar raol ? 
What does a snail know of the value of pearli ? 

809. Might is right. 

it^ ^\% ^t^ 5iti^ I 

Jar lathi tur mati* 
He who can wield the lathi, the land belongs to him. 

810. Obsequiousness. 

"^ ^% CFt^^ ^^«l I 
Ati bhakti chorar lakshan. 
Obeequiousness is the sign of a thief. 

This proverb may be aptly applied when courtier* are over 


31L Some advice. 

It^'^ ^t^^ ^^^1 ^^1, 

^ll ^% ^^^1 ^t^, 

Pdnir batat nahaba ^ga, 
Dukhi kutumbar nababa lagd, 
Du&ta bbanir nababd bbai, 
Ghan powa(n)tir nababa 30wa(n)i. 

Don't take the lead on a watery path, 

Don't stand security for a poor relation, 

Don't be the brother of a wicked sister. 

Don't be the son-in-law of ono who has born many 


This is one of Ddk's proverbs, and it is full of worldly 

812. Two warnings, 

Parihara sukati machhar jol, 

Parihara asati n^rir kol. 
Give up taking gravy made from dried jSsh, 
Give up the embraces of harlots. 

c^tn ?1 c^ is derived from Sanskrit w^, and means the liquid 
portion of curry. This is another of Ddk's sayings. 

313. ImmutaUlity of character, 

C5^ c^rn C5t^ 'I'^f^f^, 

f^Rts? r^ C5U ^\'t[ 5?^-^, 

Chore nere chor parkiti, 
Sahdi nere sar, 

JimSn ki dom chahaki nahak, 
Tec nair kasat ghar. 


A thief can never give up the habit of stealing, 
A hare does not leave its form, 
A Dom, however well-to-do he may be, 
Neyertheless has his house on the river bank. 

814. Bullocks. 

Achhe garu nabai hdl, 
Howdt kai nohowdi bhdl. 

There is a bullock but it does not plough. 
No bullock at all is better than such a bullock. 
One of Ddk's proverbs. 

315. Kindness* 

Apadar mit, ^k^lar bhat. 

A kindly word in adversity, cooked rice in a time of 

famine ( are acceptable). 

316. Destiny. 

"^pm ^«ti ^^3 fjiff , 

Alachha kathd nahai siddhi, 
B^tat achhe kana biddhi. 
Nothing can be accomplished by mere proposal, 
( Because ) blind fate ( stands in ) the way. 

817» Want of means, 

^Vt ^^ «ff5T ^U ^\t ^\^ I 
\ Jar nil dhdn tdr ndi man. 

\ He who has not paddy is not respected* 


318. Want of means. ^.^ ,,,., /\ 

^\^ ^\t ^ f*' i^t^^^p *PF I ' 

J^r nil gam si sabatkai Baru. 
He who has not cattle is the smallest of all. 

819- Blind to one's own faults. 

Apondr mukh bek^, 
Ddponfik chari lathi. 

' His own face is ugly, 
But he kicks the mirror four timee^ 

♦'" ,,>'v' '^^^1 •-'. 

itti»tt5?= Sanskrit ^ff*!, looking-glass. 

820. Empty vessels sound the loudest. 

Bis ndikiya sapar 
PhoCn)pduriei sar. 
The snake is not poisonous, 
It only hisses. 

This applies to the case of a man who talks much hut who 
does little. 

821- The castor oil plant the banyan where there are no trees, 

5^t^^ C^f^^ ^lt^ ?^1W I 

Ndikiya desat erai bar gacbh. 
In a treeless country the castor oil plant is a banyan. 
*ijM ^, the castor oil plant (Palma christi). The prorerb 
is derived from the Sanskrit sloka "^T^\ WH ig'CJft^tf^ aj^cstpt 


822. Undutifnlness to parents. 

Jiyante nakarile day^, 

Marile ki kariba Gangd Gay^ ? 

He was not kind to his parents in their life time, 

Will he perform their srdddhas at the Ganges and at Gaya 

after their death ? 

323' Perfection an imposslhiliiy. 

^t^ '^J^ *1^ •'l^, ^ ^^^ ^t=5 =?t^ I 

Bhdt hale put nai, put hale bhat ndi. 

One has food enough but no children, another hag 

children bat no food. 

324. Advice regarding paddy cultivation, 

Su krisi nasta hai mdje lale bdt, 
Su tiri nasta hai nitau behui hat. 

Good cultivation is destroyed if there is a path through the midst, 
A good woman is destroyed if she contiaually trades at the hat. 

Another of Dak's sayings. 

325. Two critical periods. 

Munihar ran, tirir biyan, 
What war is to man, child birth is to woman. 
Both war and child birth are dangerous. No one knows 
whether one or the other will not prove fatal. 

dak's advice. 107 

826' Dak's advice, 

Dibd bh^ge nalagaiba bdti, 
Nadi kasedi najdba rati. 

Don't light a lamp in the day iime^ 
Don't go near a river bank at night. 

327' One of Dale's sayings, 

Harindr mdngsai bairi. 
His own flesh is the enemy of a deer. 

82a Self interest. 

^fm f^stc'! ^-^-^ H 

Tiriye bichare dhanabanta pai. 
Dome bieh^re radchh thakd nai. 

A woman looks out for a rich husband, 
A Dom for a river where there are fish. 

329. Advice, 

Subdt dur <^aman. 
Tec ne jabd chari, 
Saru chhowdli aniba, 
Too naniba bd(n)ri. 

p 2 


On a good path walk far, 
Do not leive it, 
Marry a young girl. 
Do not marry a widow. 

830. Mangoes and jack fruit. 

Ame ban kathdie dhan. 

Wh^n there are mangoes there are floods, 
When there are jack fruit there is paddy. 

This is one of Dak*s prophecies. Another belief is that when 
there is much mango blossom there will be cholera. 

831. Disappointment, 

Tato ndhilo khai, 

Ekheto pdbalai nai. 

I came without taking anything to eat there, 

but here there is nothing to eat. 

332. Silikha. 

Bhat khai uthi tini shilikhd, 
Ki kariba rog tiUkd. 

If you take three skiliJchd fruits after a meal, no dis3ase can attack you. 

fif%^ {shilikhd)f the tree and its fruit, Terminalia citrena 
(Gamble). The Assamese eat the fruit of this tree, because of its 
laxative properties. There is a Sanskrit proverb— 

*' ^f^^'^t ^t^<; c^H\," which has the same meaning as the 
saying above. 


333. Fatality, 

f¥ ^f^?r c^^ o{m \ 

Jetiyahe pdba kdle, 
Ki kariba be jar mele. 

"When the time of death arrives. 
The advice of physicians is uselees. 

ci^ literally means an assembly. 

334. Vnchastity . 

(A^\ ^^^ ^ C^^tC'T I 
B^re bhatardr nam jane, 
Beitd pair nd,m nejane. 

She knows the names of her twelve paramours, 

But does not know the name of her married husband. 

^^^1, Sanskrit ^1, husband. The word ^»^^1 in Assamese is 
applied to the bull also, hence the slang term used here for a 

335. Misery heaped upon misery. 

GeMt tengd diy^. 
To pour acid on rotten fish. 

336. Want of thrift. ' 

^tf^c^ ^t^ fk'^^ ^tc?« f^sjfi I 

Hatiye khdi jimdu ladeo siman. 
The elephant voids as much as it eats, 

The more a man's income increases the more he spends. 


337. A bird in theViand is worth koo in the bush, 

Koldr to eri pttarfcolai dshd kara. 
Hoping for something"; still" in the womb, 
While abandoning that which is in the laP- 

Class VIII. 



Age kal pichhe ba(n)h, 
Sei girir kiman sdh. 

Plantains in front and bamboos behind, 
How independent that house-holder is. 

^it^ literally means courage. 


tfl^ ^■^;{ 7^^^ Cf f^, 
CSl^ ^t^1 ^^ C^t^ I 

Ehat emuthan kalar pot, 

Tehe chaba kalar got. 
If you plant the plantain one cubit and one miithan deep, 
Then you will see how large the plantain will become. 

'^^ is a measure of length from the elbow to the middle 
jc^nt of the little finger. 

dak's agrioultubal sayings. Ill 


'Bitftgtvs C^1^^ 'i^^^'^^ ^t^'T, 

Athiyat gobar manuhrat j^bar, 
Purat khdi mdlbbogat chh^i. 

Cowcinng^^ioT at'iij/d, sweepings for])7?a/?K>5or, 
A ditch forjswm and ash^s for mdlbhog. 

All of the four above are different kinda of plantains. Athiyd 
is a very large kind of plantain. Mdlbhog is the best kind cf 
plantain known in Assam. Por full information regarding plan- 
tains, see Mr. Basu's note on the cultivation of the plantain 


Ahu'^babd kbojat burl, 
Sdli rabd b get juri. 

Sow twdiity seods «f dhu in a footprint's space, 
Transj lant sdli at intervals of one span each. 
^r^=^r^ (twenty). 


"^1^ ^8^'.^ 5rtc^ ^t5^, 

Athur opare Ihake pani, 
Ehdtat gochh diba jani. 

If the water is over knee deep, 

Then transplant the handfulls (of sdli) at a distacce of one cubit. 



Krishi rakhibd beri jatane, 
Saphal krishi m^Dib^ mane. 

Take care to fence your cultivation, 
Then you may be sure of its success. 


Krishi karib^ ochar hhige, 
D^ke bole mor mane ]ige. 

The nearer cultivation is to the house 
The better, according to Ddk. 


Ghao sariyah pdtal mih, 
Ataran di rubd kapah. 

Sow mustard thick and pluse thin, 
Place a covering over the cotton plant. 

^t^^n is a Sanskrit word meaning covering. The ordi- 
nary Assamese word for a covering of a plant is Pt^*^ i 


'srtflsT ^tf^^ '^tf^^l tt^, 

Ahin Kdtit rdkhibS pdni, 
Jenekai Rajai rakhe B^ni. 


Keep water (in the field) in AMu and Kdrtih, 
Just as the king takes care of the queen. 

Ahin-Kdii corresponds to from the middle of September 
to the middle of November. 


Sh^onar kathiya nahay dhan, 

Ahinar gochh bipbal jan. 
From seedlings sown in Skrdban paddy does not thrive, 
Transplanting in Ash win is fruitless. 

The month Srdwan or Srdban corresponds to July-August. 
Ashwin corresponds to September-October. 


TIC? ^t^sit^ ^^rs^-^VfJ! I 

Sate tanu pa(n)che ghan, 

Chhaye tamul nadan-badan. 
Seven is too far, five too close, 
Six gives good areca nut. 

In each case the distance is supposed to be in cubits. ^V{- 
^^^ is a corruption of 'I'f^^^, the grove of Indra, where all fruits 
are thought to grow abundantly, including the famous pdrijdt. 


d^ »f^^ «?5i^ ^t?(l I 

Pube renu paschime chhdyd, 
8ei sasyar amar kay^. 

Open to the east and to the west shady) 
That cultivation never dies, 
^fqlsss^t^, body. 



c^c^ l^h t^ f^^l sitsrc^, 

Jebe Jeisth gaila bind ndngale, 
Krishi kariba kdhar bale. 
If Jetk has passed -without ploughing, 

With whGS3 help will you cultivate ? 
Cf c^=^R i ^5t5T=^^ I From the use of these two forms it 
would appear that Ddk was a Barpeta man. 


Bhddar chari Ahinar chdri, 

Mah baba jimdn pari. 

la the last four days o£ Bhddra and the first four of Ashtoin, 
Sow pulse as much as you can. 

This is a well known proverb. 


Amd purnimat bdy hdl, 

Tdr dukh sarbati kdl. 

He who ploughs on the day oE the full moon, or of Amdhdsya, 

is always in distress. 

^sjt^^l is the day of the conjunction of the sun and moon, 
particularly also the fifteenth day in the second halves of the 
months Srdvan and BMdra, 'Jfl'il is the day of the full moon. 
Besides ^=RH^1 and ^^\ there are the following days on 
which Assamese Hindus cannot plough — ^'^t^'ft (the eleventh day 
of the lunar half of the month) ; ^'^\T^ (the last day of the 

month) ; ^^^tft (the four days in Asdrh ; when the earth is 

Bapposed to he unclean. 

dak's agricultural sayings. 115 


Chhai po chhai nati, 

Tehe karib^ ku(n)liiy^r khiti. 

If you have six eons and six grandsons, 
Then you can cultivate sugarcane. 

This saying refers to the large amount of cultivation sugar- 
cane requires. 


Garu kinibd nighuni baga, 
D^ke bole mai ho lag^, 
Purchase a white bullock without blemish, 
Ddk says " I will be responsible for it." 


Shit sariyah mil mdh, 

Sharanat nekdti be(.n)t b^(n)h. 
Don't sow mustard on the four lunar days ending in the suffix %, 
Or pulse on the five lunar days ending with the suffix ft| 
Don't cut bamboos or cane during the sharan. 

^■^tf%, ^t^, ^fc^tw^, ^t^ 5f ^ are the four days ending in ^. 
t^ft, 1^^, ^Ift, ^^^, and W"f^ are the five tithis ending with 
the suffix ^ I 

1^*1 {sharan) begins every month at the commencement of the 
solar asterism Sravand and ends on the Bevati, the last of the 
lunar asterisms. The six days of the Sharan of every month are 
considered inauspicious, especially for building, hence the prohi- 
bition regarding the cutting of bamboos and cane on those 





Gao(n)r balad ocbarar bhui(n), 
T^k nechhare jananta hui. 

A wise man purchases a bullock from his o^rn tifiighbour" 

ho )d and land which lies near. 

Class IX. 



C^C^t'l ^€t ^f? ^ttt >i:5f ^t^, 

Tebese manik jadi endh^rat jale, 
Tebese taru jadi halipare pha^e, 
-Tebese sati jadi swami sange jai, 
Tebese biJya ja.U dhan dharma pai. 

That pearl is a real pearl which sparkles by night. 

That tree is a real tree which bends down with the Weight 
of its fruit, 

That Sati is a real Sati who accompanios her lord, 
That learning is real learning which brings riches and 

C5RC1 is the archaic form of c^w^^^ or csc^ i The reference 
to the Sati accompanying her lord is significant of the practice 
of immolating widows that existed throughout India before its 
abolition by Lord William Bentinck in December 1829 A.D. 


c^m ^^ ^f^ ^*t ^Mci 'Sifc^, 

CSZ^Z^ ^5^ ^R "^^^ ^t^. «(tC5( 1 
Tebe jashi jadi jash bakhane ane, 
Tebese grihastha jadi ati khai dhane. 


He is a famous man if bis praises are sung by others. 
He is a real house-holder who has sufficient paddy to eat. 



f^ft'^ f^"^^ ^rf5^ ^\t H 
c<rr«'j fiif?! mi'^'s ^^ «rt^, 

C^t5^^ f^*?^ ^tf^C^ ^"^l^ "^t^ I 

Lira,r nishphal jadi agat achhe nai, 
Tirir nL-hphal patit nai pai, 
Khetir nishphal patharat nahay dhan, 
Gochharar nishphal hakime nakare kdn. 
Eunning is u.e^e^s if there is a river in front, 
A woman is useless who haB no husband in her bed, 
Cultivation is useless if paddy does not grow in the field, 
A law suit is useless if the Judge does not listen. 

Pita putre jadi kandal baje, 

Putrak dandiba pandit raje. 
If there be a quarrel between father and son, 
The pandits ehould punish the eon. 


Mare uruli-punga, 
Mare paduli-sunga, 
Mare alap panir machb. 
Mare nadir kular gachh. 

The vagrant, the man who visits others constanlly. the fish in a U+n 
water, the tree on the river bank, are Jikely to die. '*^^^ 




Saru danta jdr oth pdtal, 
Tdik dekhiba dandar mul. 

A woman with thin lips and small teeth, 
Is the root of a quarrel. 

Ji jani nari nubuje nyay, swdmir uejane abhipray, 
Bhal bulile kare khang, tair ligat nimile rang. 

She who does not appreciate justice, she "who does not know 

the mind of her husband, 

She who gets angry if you speak to her gently, is not pleasant 


Shillono i Printed and published by E. HiLL> Press Superintendent, Assam , at tke Secretariat 
Printing Office— (Genl.) No. 250— 300—33-1 1-1903. 



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